After analyzing reports from the last 30 years, educational systems researchers have noted that graduation rates have been steadily falling since the mid 1980’s, with an accelerated decline in the 1990’s. A concern that is also related to this discovery is how the number of students who have not progressed from 9th grade to 10th grade in the time that is expected has shot up dramatically. These studies of those past 30 years are based on enrollment numbers and are showing that the transition that is most difficult for students is that between grades 8 and 10 where the trend changes drastically. When there is a higher percentage of students being enrolled in 9th grade in comparison with the estimation for students leaving the 8th grade, experts say that is indicative of a trend that, across the United States, more students are being flunked and forced to repeat the 9th grade. With the amount of 9th grade repeats, the drive to continue on to the 12th grade is decreased, which in turn has an effect on the graduation rates across the nation.
Many school officials are trying different tactics to increase their graduation rates. There is a case of a high school principal who is under investigation for charges which state that they were pushing the low scoring students out of their school simply to increase the average test score. In another unrelated case, in Texas, school district officials were not reporting discharged students as drop outs, which greatly affected the graduation rates. And on the same note, officials were not reporting several hundred students into their numbers for drop out rates which made them look much different than they were in reality.
According to experts, political policy makers often view the graduation rates of a school as a major indicator of the quality of the school itself. The No Child Left Behind legislation requires states to report graduation rates. Graduation rates are specifically defined as the percentage of students that graduate secondary school and receive a diploma in the standard number of years. Regardless of stated goals, and legislative acts, there is still a serious problem when these graduation rates are considered. Across the country, school officials and other authorities are in strict agreement that the nation’s graduation percentages are currently sliding ever further into a steady decline state. Officials believe that if early intervention were given in the years during which students are attending the 8th, 9th and 10th grades, then there could be significant improvements in these numbers and, as a result, higher college enrollment rates.