Sunday, August 24, 2003

School dropout audit sought


Report: Rate underestimated

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - A Kentucky legislative committee is calling for an audit of the state's high school dropout rate as a new report questions its accuracy.

The Program Review and Investigations Committee asked the state auditor on Friday to investigate whether schools are underreporting Kentucky's 4 percent dropout rate.

The report ordered by the committee said the state does not sufficiently verify dropout counts from schools and uses a system that in other states has been found in some cases to underestimate the problem. The report was released on Friday.

"I'm convinced it's going to be embarrassing," Sen. Dan Seum, R-Louisville, said during a hearing at the state Capitol. The issue emerged from a 90-page analysis of the state's Commonwealth Accountability Testing System, called CATS, that the committee requested last year.

The issue that got the most attention from lawmakers Friday was the potential for problems in compiling and reporting dropouts. Schools must keep rates below 5.3 percent a year or lose their eligibility for rewards.

By 2006, schools must not exceed a 5 percent dropout rate.

The Kentucky Department of Education recently reported that nearly 6,000 students - roughly 4 percent - in grades nine through 12 left school last year.

The report recommended better verification of statistics and audits that lead to adjustments and sanctions for schools that underreport them.

A spokesman for auditor Ed Hatchett's office wouldn't comment.




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