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Alabama ranks 47th in graduating high school students, study finds

MONTGOMERY (AP) — State education officials say Alabama's dismal ranking on a report about student graduation rates is the result of low funding and that improvements are expected with Gov. Bob Riley's signing of the state's largest education bond issue ever.

The state ranked 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."

Alabama graduated just 59 percent of students in the 2003-2004 school year, compared to the national average of 70 percent, and doesn't prepare them for college, the report released Tuesday said.

Alabama Superintendent of Education Joe Morton said 2003-04 was a horrible school year for the state because of reductions in spending.


"I don't quarrel with the report, and I'm not making excuses," Morton said Wednesday. "We do have a history of under-educating our people, and we trail the nation with the number of adults with college diplomas and high school education. But we have a plan to change that. If you look at where we were in 2003-04 and where we are today, we've made great strides."

That year, he said, the state education budget had no money for technology, library enhancement, English as a Second Language courses, professional development, advanced placement courses, distance learning, teacher recruiting and mentoring, and gifted education.

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.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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