Audit: Mississippi Department of Education changed dropout records to improve stats
Mississippi’s Department of Education failed to maintain an Office of Dropout Prevention for the last 10 years as required by state law and overstated its progress toward increasing graduation rates.
The graduation rate in the state was reported to have increased from 61% in 2006 to 85% by 2019. State Auditor Shad White said the increase is attributed to the way the Department of Education calculates its graduation rate, not pure improvement in student retention.
White alleges the Department of Education changed its calculation for dropout rates shortly after being asked to monitor rates in 2006, which skewed data.
State Auditor Shad White’s office claimed ODP has not had a director, which has been required by law, since 2009.
The agency created a Statewide Dropout Prevention Plan, but auditors claimed employees listed as being responsible for the prevention were not aware of the plan.
MDE also reportedly changed the way graduation rates are calculated by no longer counting “repeaters,” or students who needed to repeat 12th grade. Auditors claim this skewed the state’s graduation rate.