Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finally, the Bush administration does something right!

Yesterday, the US Dept. of Education proposed changes to the regulations governing NCLB, to require a uniform definition of the four year graduation rate to be adopted by all states by 2012-13. If this definition were adopted now, NYC graduation rates would markedly drop – far below the 60% now claimed by the city, and even below the 50% rate as calculated by the state.

In the future, officials must include in the cohort all students who transfer (or are“discharged”) into programs that do not offer regular high school diplomas, such as alternative schools and/or GED programs. Right now, thousands of these students are excluded by the state and the city from the cohort for purposes of calculating the graduation rate. See, for example, the chart above for how the number of students "discharged" from the system and not counted as dropouts by NYC has risen over time.

The feds will allow only actual four year graduates to be counted (instead of August grads, as DOE does currently.) Also, it would be forbidden to exclude any special ed students and/or count GEDs as regular HS diplomas, as the city does as well.

Finally, states would have to adopt as goals higher graduation rates (such as 90%) to be achieved at all schools over a limited time period. Very few high schools in NYC would achieve these goals today or are likely to in the near future without drastic improvements to class size and the rest of the learning environment.

See article from USA Today and the announcement from the US Dept. of Education. For more on the deceptive methods used by the city to inflate its graduation rate, check out this power point I presented at the dropout summit in February. See this report from Advocates for Children, about how NYC students are still being illegally pushed out of school.

Though it sure would be nice to get some honest numbers before Bloomberg/Klein leave office....

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