Tag Archives: dropouts

Governor creates drop-out commission

Fresh on the heels of a new report from Education Week on high-school droputs (mentioned here yesterday), Gov. Mark Parkinson has created a commission to study the issue. Kansas Reporter has more.

Dropouts in Kansas

So how did Kansas do in the Diplomas Count 2010 report? Better than average, perhaps, but that’s only because demography is in its favor. Its graduation rate for the class of 2007 was 75.1, besting the national average of 68.8. That puts Kansas as the 17th-best state among the 50 states, though significantly behind Iowa (80.2 percent, rank: 5).

But a few cautions are in order. First, that still means 3 out of 4 students drop out. Perhaps some of them will go on to have lives filled with good work prospects and knowledge and skills required to navigate life. But I suspect most will not. And when you consider all the money and effort expended by the public school system, and to some extent, social services, it’s clear that there’s some failure even on the terms of the public schools.

What happens if we break out the rates by racial groups? Among white students, Kansas dips slightly, to 20 out of 49 states (there was insufficient data for Arkansas). Among blacks, the rate was only 56.6 percent, putting the state at 18 among the 43 states that reported sufficient information to calculate a graduation rate.

I suspect, echoing something I noted in a post on the NAEP, that Kansas’s above-average performance on graduation rates is at least in part a function of its above-white enrollment, given that, for whatever reason, white students as a group score higher academically.

Dropouts in America, 2010

For another day or so you can get free access to Education Week, which is normally gated beyond a subscription-only requirement. The reason for the freebie, presumably, is to entice people to review its  report, Diplomas Count 2010.

As the existence of remedial education classes at colleges across the country prove, having a diploma doesn’t guarantee competence at the college level. But not having one is, statistically speaking a setback.

So how are we doing?

The executive summary isn’t encouraging: The graduation rate for the class of 2007 (the latest year with comprehensive, national data) was under 70 percent, or 68.8. This means that 3 of ever 10 children who entered high school left without a diploma. Imagine if 3 in 10 airplanes never reached their destination!

There are significant racial gaps. Roughly three-quarters of white students graduate, while only half of Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans do. (That said, three-quarters is not terribly encouraging, either.)

The article data in action describes how various school districts use data systems to track student attendance and achievement. The goal is to get information that can be used to intervene in the lives of students at risk of dropping out. But here are two that caught my eye. In Cincinnati, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped support a “small schools” initiative. The school system also implemented a school-choice [within the district, I think] program.

Rather than being assigned to the nearest high school, Cincinnati students choose from a list of schools based on their career interests.

The process, managed electronically, places about 90 percent of students in one of their top two choices.

Perhaps as a result of these two reforms, the graduation rate has risen from 51 percent in 2000 to 91 percent in 2009. Mary Ronan, the superintendent, said ““If you were assigned to the high school down the street and it didn’t offer things you were interested in, there was no hope to keep you in school.”