Graduation Rate Issues – In 2008, the Secretary of Education sent guidance that stated in order for a school to count graduates, they had to complete credits within the course of study. At some point in early 2012, the Alabama State Department of Education was told they were filing graduation information incorrectly by including an occupational diploma in the graduation rate. The Superintendent at that time said he would submit documentation to challenge the ruling. Usually when a ruling of this magnitude is challenged it initiates a visit or peer review, but none took place. This leads most to think that no challenge was ever submitted, and no proof of a challenge can be found at the Alabama Department of Education. Unfortunately, during this time Alabama kept filing graduation information incorrectly.
In March 2016, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) gave notice they would be conducting an audit of the Alabama Department of Education. On Mr. Sentance’s second day as Superintendent he met with OIG auditors. They reported that students were earning diplomas without having the credits. “The graduation rate reported to the U.S. Department of Education is incorrect,” stated Mr. Sentance. He went on to say, “This is a black eye for the Department. We have problems and need to fix them.”
Currently, Dee Fowler, Deputy State Superintendent and Chief of Staff, and Mr. Sentance, in conjunction with PARCA, are reviewing the structure of the department. The goal is to logically place authority and accountability to offices. Additionally, an Office of Quality Control will be created. This office’s focus will be to review and make sure protocols and regulations are being followed.
Board members voiced their disappointment and anger with the situation. They were appreciative to Mr. Sentance for his leadership in working to resolve the issue.
Mr. Sentance informed Board members that he had briefed the legislative leadership and Governor on the issue.