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How Well Are We Measuring Graduation Rates?

Douglas N. Harris

Date & Time
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
12:00–1:00 pm
1555 Poydras Street, Conference Room 760

Authors: Nathan Bar­rett, Dou­glas N. Har­ris, and Lihan Liu, ​Education Research Alliance for New Orleans​Research shows that mea­sures of edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment such as grad­u­a­tion and col­lege entrance rates are strong pre­dic­tors of long-term life out­comes for stu­dents, and for this rea­son, pol­i­cy­mak­ers have been search­ing for ways to increase high school grad­u­a­tion rates. This year, America’s high school report­ed grad­u­a­tion rate reached a record high of 83.2 per­cent, and Louisiana’s report­ed grad­u­a­tion rate con­tin­ued its upward trend, climb­ing to 77.5 per­cent. The gains have been espe­cial­ly large for dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents. In this paper, we attempt to under­stand the sources of these gains, includ­ing the changes in the types of cre­den­tials stu­dents are receiv­ing and con­cerns that have been raised about mis­re­port­ing. Pri­or research on test scores (out­side of New Orleans) has shown that account­abil­i­ty pres­sures push some schools to arti­fi­cial­ly increase their test scores, and some have sug­gest­ed the same is hap­pen­ing with grad­u­a­tion rates where the stakes have also risen. We inves­ti­gate this possibility.

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