The N.Y. Times had a story this morning about how graduation rates are counted. Mostly, it discussed the conflicting claims of Freddy Ferrer and the Bloomberg administration on graduation rates. It pointed out that the DOE’s annual graduation rate does not, in fact, include special ed students and discharged students. To be fair, the “graduation rate” they are talking about has never included those students in the count, and the rate is still improving, up to 54.3% now from 50.8% in 2002, and the highest rate in more than a decade. Also, to be fair, the student turnover in schools is such that including all discharged students in the rate would utterly skew the counts. But the most important point was buried towards the end. Even the Harvard Civil Rights Project, which had made a big fuss about grad rates, doesn’t seem to made this distinction. But 54.3% is the four year graduation rate. It does not mean everyone else dropped out. Many kids don’t graduate in four years but they do over the next one, two or three years. In the Brooklyn high school I taught in there were immigrant students who were in the U.S. alone, who were working, were caring for younger siblings, were supporting family members. They didn’t graduate in four years, but a lot of them did in seven. The seven-year grad rate is 68%, a lot more than half. Ask a guidance counselor–that additional 14% includes some truly amazing kids.