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Does the Rise in High School Graduation Rates Indicate that Students are Staying in School Longer and Learning More?

Douglas N. Harris

Date & Time
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
12:00–1:00 pm
Location
1555 Poydras Street, Suite 700
Conference Room 760
New Orleans LA 70112

Research Team: Lihan Liu, Nathan Barrett, Ruoxi Li, Education Research Alliance for New Orleans

After decades of stagnation, high school graduation rates — in New Orleans, Louisiana, and across the nation — started to rapidly increase in the early 2000s. This coincided with the introduction of No Child Left Behind, which included accountability for high school graduation rates and test scores. The timing of these events led to concerns that the increase in graduation rates might not be “real.”

In order to improve their performance on high-stakes accountability measures, schools could have lowered the standards for graduation or changed their data collection in ways that inflated the graduation rate. Recent news reports suggest that this is what happened in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. But are those instances just outliers? Did high-stakes accountability actually increase high school graduation rates? If so, did schools respond by improving the quality of schools, or through strategic behavior that increases the measures without improving students’ educational experiences? In this brown bag, we will provide our preliminary answers and discuss our analysis with the audience.

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