State dropout rates for public school students has risen to 50 percent. That’s the take on a new state report requested by two lawmakers who are sponsoring bills which would offer alternative curricula and career diplomas to the state’s 180,000 public school students. The high school drop out rate for Louisiana has been consistently reported in the past at 33 percent.

State Sen. Bob Kostelka, R-Monroe, and Rep. Jim Fannin, D-Jonesboro, wanted to measure the dropout rate of students grades seven through 12, a different standard than the previous state report which examined only high school students in grades nine through 12. They say the overall outlook, which includes students who fail the grade eight LEAP test and subsequently dropout, shows a glaring need to reform graduation standards for students who are leaving the school system before the ninth grade.

According to The Advocate, State Superintendent Paul Pastorek takes issue with the new report. Pastorek adheres to the national standard of measuring graduation rates by looking at the 9-12 picture of graduation trends. “At the end of the day, they decided this was the best way to look at it and the most effective way to look at it,” Pastorek told The Advocate.

HB 612 by Rep. Fannin passed the House by a vote of 93 to 5 and will be considered by the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Kostelka’s SB 259, which unanimously passed the Senate, is being heard in the House Education Committee today.

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