Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008
Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson
Measure to Provide More Accurate Graduation Statistics Heads to
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
“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