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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

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For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008

Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson
Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson

Measure to Provide More Accurate Graduation Statistics Heads to Senate

One state legislator is working to ensure that Oklahoma has more accurate and reliable graduation and dropout statistics so that officials can help more students stay in the classroom. State Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson has authored Senate Bill 1634 requiring the state to use the high school graduation formula approved and accepted by the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the governors of all 50 states. The same measure received approval from the Senate last year, but not the House.

“I agree with the NGA that we need a formula that will allow us to compare our graduation and dropout rates nationwide. Right now there are too many formulas being used and it’s confusing and unproductive,” said Wilcoxson, co-chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “As of 2006, thirteen states reported their graduation rates using the NGA Compact formula, so it is in effect and we need to get on board.”

The Oklahoma City Republican also noted that according to the NGA Center for Best Practices, 39 states plan to report by 2010 a graduation rate using the NGA Compact definition. Representatives from the State Department said they plan to implement the program in 2010. But Wilcoxson fears that will be too late based on the fact that there are high schools in Oklahoma currently with 40 and 50 percent dropout rates according to the State Education Oversight Board's 2006 School Report Card.

"We have high schools in our state with a 40 percent dropout rate, but we don’t know what their graduation rates are and that is a serious problem,” said Wilcoxson. “We need to know where our problems lie and how to address them. Right now it’s next to impossible to address the issue because the data are simply unreliable.”

Wilcoxson cited a recent court ruling and various national studies as proof that Oklahoma’s current formula is not reliable. In 2007, a court ruled that the State Department’s decision to put Western Heights School District on the list of districts that need improvement was “arbitrary and capricious”. The court found that the State Department was using unreliable graduation rate data and was not uniformly applying rules for determining adequate yearly progress. Wilcoxson also pointed to a January 2008 “Alliance for Excellent Education Report” that found Oklahoma and other states propose misleading graduation rate calculations and also significantly underestimate the number of students dropping out each year.

“Until we have transparent and accurate data, we cannot hold schools and districts responsible for increasing the graduation rates of all students,” said Wilcoxson.

The measure will now be considered by the full Senate.

For more information contact:
Senator Wilcoxson's Office: (405) 521-5618

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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