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NEA Applauds Standardization of Dropout Data

Weaver cautions that stemming dropout crisis will require much more


WASHINGTON - April 02, 2008 -

The National Education Association welcomes U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ announcement that she will require all states to use one formula to measure graduation and dropout rates.  NEA has long supported the use of a single dropout formula to calculate the severity of America’s dropout crisis. 

“We applaud Secretary Spellings for realizing the importance of compiling accurate data in order to address America’s dire dropout problem,” said NEA President Reg Weaver.  “It just makes sense that we standardize our collection of this data so that we do not understate this serious issue.  All 50 states have weighed in on the best approach, and that is the NGA formula.” 

In 2005, NEA endorsed the graduation rate formula developed by the National Governors Association and agreed to by 50 state governors.  The major challenge in standardizing the graduation data collection is providing each state with the resources and technical assistance needed to establish a statewide school record system that can track each student through at least four years of high school. 

“We cannot allow this to be another unfunded mandate,” said Weaver.  “The education of America’s children needs to be a national priority. Our dropout crisis must be addressed so that all of our children are prepared to compete in the global economy.” 

NEA released a 12-point action plan to address the nation’s school dropout crisis in October 2006.  These steps include mandating high school graduation or equivalency for everyone below age 21, acting early to get students the individual attention they need, increasing career education and workforce readiness programs, and gathering accurate data for key student groups in order to set benchmarks for each state.

The standardization initiative will correct a major flaw in No Child Left Behind, which allows states to customize dropout calculation formulas.  As with any accountability system, NEA emphasized that there must be multiple measures to track progress, as well as flexibility for special education and English Language Learners.  NEA recently urged Congress to appropriate $1 billion for fiscal year 2008 to pay for dropout prevention programs. 

“We will continue to urge Congress to make crucial changes to NCLB,” said Weaver.  “To make sure our children don’t fall through the cracks, we need to treat them as more than a test score.”

For more information on NEA’s dropout prevention initiatives, please go to www.nea.org/dropout/index.html

For more information on the NGA’s Graduation Compact, please go to http://www.nga.org/ .

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

Contact: Sara Robertson  (202) 822-7823