It is one measure of the bankruptcy of modern public education that its policymakers really think that the production of more graduates is necessarily a sign of academic improvement.
Here is the subtitle to a New York Times report on higher graduation rates in one school district:
The number of students completing high school has reached historic peaks, yet other measures of academic readiness for college or jobs are much lower.
Of course, there are two ways you produce more graduates: The first is to increase the number of students who meet the fixed standards required to graduate; the second is to lower the standards required to graduate so that more students meet them.
The public education system expects us to conclude from the mere fact that a higher percentage of students graduate that students are, on average, learning more. But in a system in which there really are no well-articulated standards one is required to meet in order to get a high school diploma--other than having passing grades in classes in which grade inflation has rendered the distinction between passing and failing grades meaningless in absolute terms--there is simply no way you can conclude, from graduation rates, that schools are improving.
That those who spout this nonsense expect the public to accept it is nothing other than an indication of their own disingenuousness--and their lack of respect for the judgment of public they spout it to.