A magazine for educators says Missouri has the eighth best high school graduation rate in the nation.  But  Missouri’s top elementary and secondary education official takes the news with a grain of salt. 

Education Week says 80.7 percent of Missouri’s high school students graduated in 2010, the fourth year Missouri’s rate had grown.   State education commissioner Chris Nicastro says the number is accurate, but the ranking is suspect because 2010 was the last year states used different criteria to measure graduation rates.  A new, uniform system begun  in 2011 is less complimentary. “Missouri does not yet achieve top ten performance although…we are increasing,” she says. 

Education Week has used numbers from the last ten years.  The new system measures graduation rates based on a four-year record. She says that system shows a slight increase in 2011, the first year the new system was used.  The 2012 rate jumped to 86 percent, up more than four-and-a-half percentage points.

Nicastro says high school graduation is essential, it is no longer sufficient.  She says people wanting to be competitive and successful need to graduate from high school and get some kind of post-secondary credential.

AUDIO: Nicastro interview 16:13