MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal audit says Alabama misreported graduation rates by including students who earned an alternative diploma.

The U.S. Department of Education released an audit Friday concerning the state’s graduation rates. Inspectors found Alabama had included students who earned an alternative diploma, even though federal education officials instructed the state years earlier not to include them.

The report was released six months after the state Department of Education acknowledged problems with graduation rates.

The audit said former Superintendent Tommy Bice disagreed with federal officials’ directive not to count the alternative diploma because he believed it aligned with state’s academic standards.

Federal officials said the diploma did not align with the state’s academic standards and “improperly inflated” the graduation rate.

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