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Graduation rate debate explained

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The state's 64% graduation rate for Montgomery Public Schools is throwing local officials for a loop.

"If you did the averages of my high schools it would be 75%," says MPS Superintendent, Barbara Thompson.

State Department of Education officials say there are a handful of schools that aren't required to be listed on the state's list.

Their graduation rates--most likely low--are still counted in the Montgomery Public Schools' overall graduation rate.

"We kinda get hit with a double dose there," says Thompson.

In the meantime, state officials say their statistics come straight from the school system.

"We do not input data at the state level or come up with a graduation rate that is derived from numbers that came from the state department. They come from the local system," says Malissa Valdes-Hubert with the State Department of Education.

Thompson says MPS has worked to improve its student record system.

"This last year we really made an effort to keep that documentation."

That's because the new graduation rate formula requires it.

"If a student transfers out, it is the responsibility of the school that they left to identify which public school they went in to," says Valdes-Hubert.

State officials believe there are many school districts that would have seen higher graduation rates if they did better record keeping.

Thompson says she's not thrilled with the system's 64% rate, but hopes better record keeping and new initiatives targeting 9th graders will help create more graduates.

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