"The way that TEA has set up rules for recording dropouts, we're just really not getting the true picture of really the crisis we're in in terms of so many of these students dropping out."
Rice University Center for Education Co-Director Linda McNeil looked at some of the numbers.
"I think most people would be surprised to find out that 25 percent of the Anglo kids don't graduate across the state. Slightly fewer than 50 percent of our Latino kids are not graduating and as you know that is the fatest growing student population. And the very highest dropout rate is African American boys which is closer to 55 or 60 percent."
Researchers and the Texas Education Agency have issues with how the other group is tallying the numbers. TEA Spokesperson Debbie Ratcliffe says the data used by researchers are outdated.
"The legislature several years ago passed a bill that said we need to adopt the national drop out definition and we've been transitioning to that and the next round of drop out figures we release will be based on the standardized definition used across the country."
Ratcliff says the statewide graduation rate is 84 percent. Researchers at the conference say it's closer to 70 percent.