New graduation rate released after ALSDE investigation

New graduation rate released after ALSDE investigation

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama State Department of Education released a new graduation rate for 2016 Tuesday, following a series of missteps and a federal investigation, as well as discussed the findings of the internal investigation into the release of incorrect graduation numbers in the spring.

The official 2016 federal graduation rate is 87.1 percent. That's two points below the 2015 number, which was inflated, and above the inaccurate number released in the spring.

A "series of unfortunate events" led to the early and incorrect release of the 2016 graduation rates.

While the board pressed to learn who pushed the button to release those numbers, the former superintendent brought in to investigate the issue said it wasn't that simple.  He called it a "perfect storm," driven by lapses in communication.

Two issues drove the incorrect numbers: school districts weren't given the opportunity to review and verify their graduation rates, and a lack of seamless course coding.

Each district codes courses differently, which means some courses weren't used, and should have been included, and vice versa. In some cases top students, including valedictorians, weren't included in the graduation rates.

"Miscommunication, inaccurate assumptions, breakdown in checks and balances and deficiency in known business rules all contributed to a perfect storm. All persons I interviewed and met with expressed genuine desire such a situation as this not occur again," said Phil Hammonds, who conducted the investigation into the rates.

Systems are in place to prevent both issues from happening again. Individual district graduation rates have not been released.

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