This week the head of the Department of Education announced a long-overdue change in statistics: standardizing the process by which the high school graduation rate is computed. I love it. The only way to discuss issues intelligently is if everyone is using the same words with the same meaning. Currently, states use different processes to compute a graduation rate. (If I remember correctly, my high school class had about 56 kids in 9th grade, by graduation we had 37 or so. The issue is the extent to which the rate accounts for dropouts. Because we don't have a system for tracking every child, that's difficult for the school bureaucracies--one system's dropout can be another system's in-transfer. I'll be interested to see how accurate the statistics can get.)
I have to say, this is a change that GW should have insisted on in the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. But then, his first Education secretary had played games with statistics in Houston, so Bush understandably didn't want to draw attention to statistics, particularly if they might undermine his major claim as Texas governor. (There--I had been too silent on GWB for a while--nice to get some criticism off my chest.)
But, progress is made in steps, and this is better late than never. Sec. Spellings should be commended.