Tennessee caused a stir earlier this year when it ran an audit of the state’s 2015 graduating class. The number crunchers in Nashville reported that nearly a third of students who received a diploma didn’t complete the required coursework. One in three.
Naturally, parents and politicians alike were baffled and more than a little bothered.
“I’m just having a hard time reconciling ‘requirement’ with 'didn’t do it,’” board member Wendy Tucker said at a public meeting, hypothesizing on the spot that this could explain Tennessee’s trouble with students succeeding in college. Less than a quarter of high-school graduates earn a postsecondary degree.
She wasn’t the only one having a hard time. The state’s Department of Education struggled to explain the gap.
Illustration: LA Johnson/NPR