The fallout continues after the news broke Thursday afternoon that Alabama wrongly reported the statewide graduation rate.
Last year’s rate of 89% seemed too good to be true, and an internal audit shows the state made a mistake by including occupational diplomas earned by specian needs students in its graduation numbers.
Auditors suggest the state also did not properly oversee local school systems and some students were awarded credits that weren’t earned for last school year.
Governor Robert Bentley responded by saying, “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,” Bentley said in a statement. “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.”
Kathy Batiste has a daughter at Williamson High School and two older daughters who graduated from the school. She had suspected long before the audit that schools may be using special education students to boost their numbers.
“The number of special ed children is growing, so that makes me wonder,’ are you labeling them as special ed in elementary so they can be counted when they get to high school as if they’re passing?’ We say ‘no child left behind’, but I feel like we really are pushing children to be left behind,” Batiste said.
She hopes the state investigation will be an opportunity for education leaders to take a closer look at the quality of education for their students.
The Alabama State Board of Education declined to release the identities of systems that they’re investigating , but we’ve filed a FOIA request with the U.S Department of Education for a copy of the audit in hopes of getting answers.