by Michael Lowrey
That’s the very good news. Now the bad news from a public policy perceptive: We really don’t know with any degree of certainty what factors were behind the 15 percentage point (!) jump — from 66.1 percent in 2009 to 81 percent this year — over four years in CMS graduation rates. Some of it may have come from curriculum changes, better support programs, and more effective leadership. However, CMS also lowered their graduation standard from passing 28 classes in high school to 24 classes (the state requires only 22). And there’s the little matter of the Great Recession, so it’s entirely likely that a portion of the higher graduation rate is simply more teens staying in school to get their degree because they realize that their job prospects without a high school diploma were not very good. And without knowing what’s really going on and why, it’s very easy to draw the wrong conclusions and thus make mistakes going forward.