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NAACP Supports Legislation to Ensure Accurate, Uniform High School Drop- Out Retention Reporting

WHEREAS, in 2001, The No Child Left Behind Act (―NCLB‖) passed with broad bipartisan support. The purpose of No Child Left Behind was to ensure that every student in America would receive a quality education; and

WHEREAS, unfortunately, under current law, the only meaningful accountability measures for high schools is students' scores on standardized tests, with virtually no concern given to how many students graduate or drop out of school. Sadly, this myopic accountability measurement has created an incentive for high schools to push out students who are struggling academically, so that their test scores are not counted in the assessments. Furthermore, the current accountability system also has allowed States to report graduation rates inconsistently and in misleading ways. Finally, NCLB does not require the disaggregation of graduation rates by subgroup, leading to incomplete data on how our schools are doing with one subgroup compared to others; and

WHEREAS, each year, about 1.23 million secondary school students, approximately one-third of all secondary school students, fail to graduate with their peers. In addition, nearly 2,000 secondary schools--roughly 12 percent of all secondary schools in the United States--produce about half of the Nation's secondary school dropouts. In these schools, the number of seniors is routinely 60 percent or less than the number of freshmen three years earlier. And almost half of the Nation's African-American students and nearly 40 percent of Latino students attend these so called "dropout factories," while only 11 percent of white students do; and

WHEREAS, the lifetime earnings difference between a high school dropout and a high school graduate is about $260,000; and

WHEREAS, the Every Student Counts Act, introduced by Congressman Robert ―Bobby‖ Scott (VA) and Senator Tom Harkin (IA) will bring meaningful accountability to America's high schools by requiring a consistent and accurate calculation of graduation rates across all fifty states to ensure comparability and transparency. The legislation builds on the National Governors Association's Graduation Rate Compact, which was signed by all 50 of the Nation's governors in 2005. Under the Every Student Counts Act, graduation rates and test scores are treated equally. Moreover, the Every Student Counts Act would require high schools to have aggressive, attainable and uniform annual growth requirements. This will ensure consistent increases to graduation rates for all students by meeting annual, research-based benchmarks with the long-term goal of reaching a 90 percent graduation rate. The bill would also require the disaggregation of graduation data by subgroup to make certain that schools are held accountable for increasing the graduation rate for all of our students and require that school improvement activities focus on closing any achievement gaps.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly supports the Every Student Counts Act and calls for its swift enactment.