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There’s been much commentary following the release of the latest GradNation report, particularly among charter school leaders.

The report notes a wide disparity in graduation rates among charter schools and calls out Alternative Education Campuses (AECs) and online schools for their low graduation rates, which led to some admonishments from others within the charter sector.

Before we get too judgmental, let’s remember that the federal government’s four-year cohort graduation rate was built for a traditional school model.

In fact, the National Governors Association task force credited with the creation of the four-year cohort advised policy makers to consider the “treatment of students whose graduation is delayed due to issues beyond a state’s or school’s control,” and to develop frameworks to “ensure schools are not penalized for helping struggling students successfully complete high school.”

While the current approach may be effective at measuring graduation rates for schools with a stable group of students, it’s ineffective at measuring high schools that take in high numbers of under-credited transfer students, which is exactly the case for many AECs and online public schools.

To read more, please visit: http://educationpost.org/lets-get-some-context-and-real-reform-around-graduation-rates/

About The Author

Mary Gifford

Mary Gifford is the Senior Vice President of Education, and Policy & External Affairs at K12 Inc. Ms. Gifford leads the Office of Academic Policy which conducts research on K12 programs and partner schools, provides support for the efficacy of K12 educational programs, develops new school models, and educates legislators and regulators about virtual learning. Ms. Gifford previously served as the senior vice president of the central region and supported more than a dozen schools in eight states. During her tenure with K12, Ms. Gifford has integrated iQ and Insight programs and has been involved in opening many new schools. She has led innovations such as proliferation of unique hybrid models like the YMCA and military drop-in sites and the development of an at-risk model. Ms. Gifford served on the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools for 11 years as an appointee of both the governor and the state superintendent of public instruction. The State Board for Charter School authorizes more than 500 charter schools. Prior to K12, Ms. Gifford was with the accounting firm of Sarvas, King and Coleman as the director of the firm’s charter school practice and served as the leadership development director at Mackinac Center for Public Policy. She also worked as the education policy director at the Goldwater institute. She serves on the board of directors for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and as the board president of EdKey, a nonprofit charter management organization that oversees 23 schools throughout Arizona. Ms. Gifford earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and economics from Arizona State University, a master’s degree in education leadership from Northern Arizona University, and has completed coursework in public administration at Arizona State University.

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