Like Mississippi, many states use an inflated graduation rate for federal reporting requirements under the No Child Left Behind law and a different one at home. As a result, researchers say, federal figures obscure a dropout epidemic so severe that only about 70 percent of the one million American students who start ninth grade each year graduate four years later.
But whatever would we do without a public school system that can barely move half the students that enter it even with social promotion? If you tried to design an even half-way rational means of educating a child, just what aspects of the present system would you retain? And as the CPI fiction shows, these are far from the only federal figures being severely fudged.