Florida graduation rates boosted by FCAT flunkies, again
Florida's impressive rise in graduation rates this year was fueled again by what some consider to be a loophole. Some 9,410 students who were awarded standard diplomas in 2008-09 failed the FCAT exit exam but got a high enough score on either the SAT or ACT. That's 7.4 percent of the total number of graduates, up from 5.2 percent last year and 0.5 percent five years ago.
The raw number of "alternate assessment" graduates this year is up 2,864 - which is more than the total increase in graduates overall (2,205). (You can see more state numbers here on page 4, and the district by district numbers on page 15.) In other words, take away the increase in alternate assessment students, and Florida's graduation rate goes down.
The St. Petersburg Times wrote about this trend last year. And there's not much to add, except this: The DOE just raised the bar on those alternate assessment scores - for example, the comparable ACT reading score went from 15 to 18 - which means fewer students in the future will be able to squeak over it for a diploma.
So, we ask you: Should Florida's record-high graduation rates come with an asterisk?