Texas among nation's best in HS graduation - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Texas among nation's best in HS graduation

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After wave upon wave of troubling educational statistics, Texans have just been offered new, more comforting numbers that place the Lone Star State's public school performance among the best in the nation.

According to the US Department of Education, Texas has produced an 86-percent high school graduation rate, fourth best in the nation.  Among African Americans, the rate is 81 percent, second best in the country.  The percentage among Hispanics is slightly better at 82 percent.

"We've said despite poverty, despite tough circumstances, kids can be successful and we are proving that," said Rob Gasparello, principal of Sharpstown High School.

Rob Gasparello has been in the trenches of the graduation effort at Houston's Sharpstown High and says while encouraging, the optimistic numbers are far from perfect.

"Yes we are moving in the right direction, but as far as being satisfied, I don't think we can be anywhere close to that," said Gasrparello.

There is no shortage of critics for these graduation numbers.  Robert Sanborn President of Children at Risk says when it comes to graduation rates the Texas Education Agency is cooking the books.

"If we want to believe the false data, we are not going to work hard on the problem", said Sanborn.

"73 percent of our kids that start in the 9th grade will finish. But when we look at these urban areas in Dallas and Houston and San Antonio what you will find is we are working hard to get up to 50 percent," he added.

Sanborn claims Texas allows public schools to dilute the number of drop-outs with so called "leaver codes" - a category which assumes a departing student will complete school elsewhere.

Many, he says, do not.

"Texas does a good job of trying to make themselves look good, but the important thing is that we have the real numbers," said Sanborn.

FOX 26 has learned every state, not just Texas, employs leaver codes to some degree.

The TEA is clearly standing by its numbers which Commissioner Michael Williams called proof, "Texas public schools are delivering a high quality education."

Houston Independent School District is reporting an improved four year graduation rate of 78.5 percent.

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