State: Alabama graduation rate not accurate

Almost 300 seniors graduate from Daphne High School in May 2016.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama’s 89 percent graduation rate is not accurate, but it may be months before the correct numbers are revealed.

A review of the state’s graduation rates by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General shows the state misstated its rates by counting students who received Alabama Occupational Diplomas in its numbers and by not properly overseeing local school systems’ awarding of class credits, resulting in some diplomas that weren’t honestly earned.

A state Department of Education spokeswoman said Thursday there won’t be any recalculation of the 2014-15 rates at this time. Malissa Valdes-Hubert says the numbers for the 2015-16 school year are expected to be released in early spring.

Superintendent Michael Sentance says the department is establishing an internal audit unit to ensure protocols and procedures are followed.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued the following statement after the story broke Thursday morning:

This week, Superintendent of Education Michael Sentance briefed me on the findings from the State Department of Education’s internal audit of Alabama’s graduation rate. I was alarmed and disappointed to learn the numbers have been reported incorrectly to the U.S. Department of Education, to parents, to legislators and my office.

When Superintendent Sentance was chosen to lead the State Department of Education, he committed to increasing student achievement in Alabama. I appreciate the efforts of Superintendent Sentance and the members of the Alabama State Board of Education in working to identify problems, as well as solutions, on state and local levels. Our Alabama children need and deserve the best education our leaders can offer. I am confident Superintendent Sentance and members of the Board of Education will see to it that happens.”

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