Uniform standards will help us move away from the numbers

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that starting this summer it will be reporting and collecting graduation rate data on a rigorous, uniform basis. States will no longer have differing ways to calculate graduation data in an effort for greater uniformity and transparency in those calculations.

"A common rate will help target support so more students graduate on-time by using more accurate data," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "It will also encourage states to account for students who need more than four years to earn a diploma."

Anticipations by the department are that this will lower reported graduation rates, but will give us a better understanding of the dropout numbers. We couldn’t agree more.

We don't know of a single school district in the country that doesn't have a dropout problem — so while data is helpful for identifying which districts need more help in battling this epidemic, too much focus on numbers takes attention away from students.

This new law should help take that focus off the numbers and help us better identify the students who need support in continuing their education.

“Ultimately, our goal is to ensure each child will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and a career,” Grant-Engle Commissioner of Education Chris L. Nicastro recently told the Missouri News Horizon.

Indeed, however you crunch the numbers, that should always be the objective.