Pool report on testimony by Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, Texas school finance trial, Travis County, by Will Weissert, The Associated Press, Dec. 6, 2012

During additional cross-examination, Whitehurst was asked about Texas’ significant jump in graduation rate from around 75 percent to 86 percent (the figure contained in last week’s U.S. Department of Education figures) in barely the last two years. He was asked if Texas suddenly got stronger in graduating students, and Whitehurst said he wasn’t aware of improvements that would make the figure jump so much so quickly.

Instead, he said there likely some flaws in the new system used to create the federal data that was released last week. Turner called his attention to an article in The Washington Times from last week when Whitehurst himself was quoted as saying he was somewhat skeptical about the new reporting system.

He elaborated on those remarks on the stand, saying it was possible for high schools to game the system and therefore tamp down their drop-out rates. He said what will commonly happen is a student drops out but is instead listed as having moved or transferred when his classmates and even school administrators know the truth.

Whitehurst said, “We know schools can cheat” and the new federal data-reporting system was too new to fully control for such cheating.