More Florida graduation rate nonsense

From the Tampa Bay Times, by Jeff Solochek

Florida’s effort to win a waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements continues to founder on the state’s insistence that special diploma graduates be counted in the state’s high school grading calculation.

“We feel in the department that it’s pretty important that we stand behind the decision that this board made in February,” interim commissioner Pam Stewart said Friday.

She referred to the Florida Board of Education move to give high schools credit for five-year graduates and special diploma graduates, counter to federal desires that graduation rates be based solely on four-year completers. FDOE leaders have met with federal education officials, most recently with two top lieutenants to U.S. secretary Arne Duncan on Thursday, Stewart said.

“They were willing to help us in changing our requirements,” she said. “But the seemed unwilling to discuss the substance.”

Stewart said she is trying to make the case that Florida is in fact using the calculation that the feds desire, but then — like several other states — adding another calculation. “They seemed very willing to revisit that, and have asked for documentation,” she said. “We will continue the negotiations. We feel very strongly they should be included in the calculation, because they meet all the (graduation) requirements.”

As a result, the federal government has extended the state’s deadline to submit all the required documentation for the waiver from July to December. The feds first placed conditions on Florida’s waiver back in February.

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