"While waivers can provide needed flexibility in many areas, unfortunately a number of waiver plans appear to turn back the clock on graduation rate accountability," Wise said.
In 11 states, for example, accountability for subgroup performance is "weak or nonexistent," according to the study. In some states, there is also no intervention requirement at schools where students consistently miss their graduation rate goals. In 11 states, the waivers allow them to use a graduation measure inconsistent with the 2008 regulations, the study said.
In Indiana, for example, the state is allowed to count students who receive a "waiver diploma" in the graduation figures used for accountability. The waiver diploma is given to students who fulfill alternative graduation requirements defined by the state; more than a quarter of students graduating from Indianapolis Public Schools — most of them poor and minority student students — receive a waiver diploma.
"Legitimate equality questions arise as to whether all students in the state are being held to the same high standard," the report states.
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