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We congratulate: School grad rates, long-range plans

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Graduation rates are positive, but the goals are even better.

We were extremely pleased to see how significantly Shelby County’s graduation rates have surpassed those of other school districts in the state, based on the new formula adopted for federal No Child Left Behind program.

We understand that statistics can be misconstrued and misleading, but clearly Shelby County High School was getting students through the receiving line on graduation day. We marveled, too, at the large percentage of African-American and female students who had earned diplomas. These were standard-setting percentages.

But perhaps our greatest satisfaction came when we heard school officials embrace these statistics as validating their efforts but also recognize immediately that they don’t reflect their district’s goals going forward.

That goal – to have every student who enters a high school in Shelby County college or career ready at the end of four years – is a far, far more ambitious and worthy goal than simply to ensure a high percentage graduates.

To measure how many are truly ready for the next step will be a long-range process that probably won’t be calculable by any basic formula.

We will know the goal has been met when our students in fact succeed and lead.