There's an assumption of consistency across the U.S. with the new figures, but states still differ in how they compile and report rates, even under the new system, Barge said Tuesday. States also have varying graduation expectations for students, he added.
"It is more accurate, but it's still not getting at that true apples-to-apples comparison," Barge said.
The broader discussion about Georgia's graduation and drop-out rates should also include poverty, heath care and the well-being of very young children, Callahan said.
"I think the elephant in the room is poverty," Callahan said.
"We haves students arriving at our doors in kindergarten or in first grade who have not had proper nutrition, who have not been read to," said Callahan, a former teacher. "That early deprivation is a serious challenge, and it manifests itself years later in dropout rates. So I think we need to address childhood poverty and childhood health issues more comprehensively than we have been doing."
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