Alabama Ignored Rules, Inflated Graduation Rate, Audit Finds

In Education, States On

A federal audit has found that Alabama inflated its state graduation rate by improperly including students who earned alternative diplomas, students who hadn’t earned enough credit, and, in at least one case, a student who had died.

According to an audit released late last week by the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Department of Education, federal officials told Alabama in 2011 and 2012 not to include the alternative diplomas in its graduation-rate count.

Federal rules in effect since 2008 require states to calculate the graduation rate as the number of students who earn a “regular” diploma four years after entering high school.

But then-state Superintendent Tommy Bice disagreed with the federal directive to exclude alternative diplomas, arguing that they reflected mastery of the state’s academic standards, so his department factored them in to the graduation rate.

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