Washington, D.C. area high schools are likely to see their graduation rates plummet this year, after an investigation revealed that one in three kids who graduated in 2017 earned an invalid or incomplete diploma.

The shocking study revealed that of the 73% of students Washington, D.C. claimed earned their high school diplomas, only about two-thirds of those students did so legitimately, according to The Washington Post. This year, only about 42% of high school seniors are currently on track to graduate without the district "cooking the books."

Around 19% of high school seniors are considered "moderately off-track" because of absences and failing grades. The district refuses to count those students out until it is clear they will not pull things together ahead of graduation.

The study, conducted internally, found that D.C. schools were still awarding diplomas even if students had too many absences, or if students were shy of the number of credits needed to graduate with their peers. If a student is absent more than 30 times in a semester, they are considered to have failed their classes and forfeited credit. In certain schools, nearly a quarter of students have enough repeat absences for the school to deny a diploma.

Washington, D.C. has long touted itself as America's most successful school district. Before the investigation, they regularly boasted of an 83% graduation rate — easily the nation's best for urban population centers. The now-false number has also kept further charter school applications at bay, as D.C. argued that such a successful public school system would only suffer from private alternatives.