Study Ranks Alabama 47th in Graduating High School Students

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - State education officials blame Alabama's dismal ranking on student graduation rates to low funding. But educators predict a bright future, in part, because of a one billion dollar education bond issue Governor Riley will sign Wednesday.

The state ranks 47th in the nation in graduating high school students, according to Education Week's report "Diplomas Count: Ready for What? Preparing for College, Careers and Life After High School."

The report said Alabama graduated just 59 percent of students in the 2003-2004 school year, compared to the national average of 70 percent.

Alabama Superintendent of Education Joe Morton said 2003-2004 was a horrible school year for the state because of reductions in spending.

The state Department of Education lists Alabama's graduation rate at 82 percent, and officials have said reports showing a lower number don't fairly portray Alabama students.

For its figures, the state counts all six diploma options available to students, though that is not accepted under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The report also states high school graduates will need to complete at least some college to earn a decent wage, but Alabama does a poor job preparing students for college.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)