Advancing Accountabilityor Graduation Rates
Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
(ESEA) has directedederal resources to schools or more than our decades to help ensureall children have equal access to a quality education. The most recentreauthorization—or congressional update to the law—occurred with thepassage o the
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
(NCLB). Although ESEAwas due or reauthorization in 2007, NCLB has governed education policyin states and school districts or more than a decade. While waiting orCongress to complete its next reauthorization, the U.S. Department oEducation has oered states exibility rom prescriptive provisions o the lawthat have become barriers to state and local implementation o innovativeeducation reorms. ESEA exibility moves away rom top-down policies,instead supporting decisions inormed by data and expertise at the stateand local levels. All participating states must show how their reorm plansadvance all students’ achievement by maintaining a high bar or studentsuccess, closing achievement gaps, improving the quality o instruction,and increasing equity by better targeting support and resources to schoolsbased on need.
Ensuring that all students graduate with the knowledge and skills necessaryto thrive in college and the workorce is a core objective o ESEA exibility.Progress toward an ambitious, achievable graduation rate goal is onecritical actor in determining i a school is adequately preparing studentsor success ater high school. The Department recognizes the importanceo this measure o school and student perormance, requiring everystate approved or ESEA exibility to use the our-year adjusted cohortgraduation rate* as a signifcant element in its school accountability system.
Additionally, each participating state must:
annual targets that ensure continuous and substantial progress towardthat goal by all students and all subgroups o students;
achievement and graduation rates; and
o students—such as minority students, English Learners, and students with disabilities.How states and districts support subgroups o students must be driven by their progress toward meeting assessmentperormance targets and graduation rates.Through ESEA exibility, the Department will both recognize states or demonstrating success—such as graduating morestudents every year—and challenge states that all short o their goals to pursue rigorous reorm eorts that ocus onwhat is best or students.
*See the Defnition Box.
*Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate:
Auniorm method o calculating secondaryschool graduation rates across states,districts, and schools that increasesthe comparability and accuracy o thismeasure throughout the country.
Schools withgraduation rates persistently below 60percent.
History in Review:
Upwards o one million, or roughlyone in our, U.S. students drop outeach year. Only about 12 percent ohigh schools produce ully hal o thecountry’s dropouts. NCLB allowed statesto mask schools with low graduationrates by lacking a requirement or howgraduation rate had to be calculated,prompting 2008 ederal regulationsaimed at ensuring common and accurategraduation rate calculations. ESEAexibility strengthens those regulationsby ensuring that schools with the lowestgraduation rates will engage in meaninguland rigorous reorms.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION