KUOW reports that school districts in Washington have been using inconsistent standards to gauge graduation rates, leading many districts to present exaggerated counts of how many of their students are graduating on time.
In one case, the Renton School District reported that it had a 94 percent graduation rate, when in fact the district's on-time graduation rate that year was 78 percent, according to the KUOW story.
The reason for the unreliable reporting is that the state has given districts freedom to compile statistics however they liked, KUOW's Ann Dornfield reports.
"That allowed for some creative accounting," Dornfield writes. "For instance, a struggling 18-year-old might be counted as a 10th grader for the third year in a row, rather than a 12th grader who failed to graduate."
All that is now changing, Dornfield reports, as new federal standards require school districts to count graduation rates based on the number of ninth graders who graduate within four years.