What good is a ‘cooked’ grad rate?

Perhaps it should be no surprise that improving graduation rates in the nation’s high schools are often the result of cooking the books. Whenever the standards for earning a high school diploma are raised, politicians seem to backtrack on them because so many students would fail to graduate. Well, yes, that’s the thing with higher standards; they have to be met or they have to be lowered — one or the other.

NPR has rolled out its investigation of the grad rates and found questionable practices are involved. The standards are lowered or the system is gamed.

In doing so, it also conveys the problem with the problem: The alternative to destroying the value of a high school diploma is a student dropping out.

Minnesota is one of nine states that require a “college ready” high school diploma. The state has an 81 percent graduation rate.