Sunday, May 17, 2015

California's "Mediocre" Graduation Rate

I'm not convinced that Common Core is going to bring us to the Promised Land of all students graduating, or even that all racial and ethnic groups will graduate in statistically-equal proportions:
California’s high school graduation rate has improved in recent years but is still mediocre compared to other states, a new national study reveals.
The study, entitled “Building a Grad Nation,” was done for America’s Promise Alliance, a consortium of civic and business groups headed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma. Its goal is to raise the national graduation rate, 81.4 percent in 2013, to 90 percent by 2020.
While citing progress in raising graduation rates, Powell says in an open letter accompanying the report that “we are running out of time to close large and lingering gaps in graduation rates among different student populations.”
California’s 2013 graduation rate, 80.4 percent, is a full point below average, although the state was cited in the report for adding 4.4 percentage points to its rate in two years. California’s superintendent of schools, Tom Torlakson, reported last month that the state graduation rate rose again to 80.8 percent last year.
Twenty-eight states had graduation rates higher than California’s in 2013, the study found, with Iowa, at 89.7 percent, Nebraska (88.5 percent), and Texas and Wisconsin (88 percent) coming closest to the 90 percent goal. Oregon had, by far, the lowest rate, 68.7 percent.
I'll admit that I'm surprised that Oregon's rate is so low.  Are all these percentages calculated the same way?  If so, what is the explanation for Oregon, and for Texas?


maxutils said...

Yhis may be ypp ey an answer, but since graduating is a purely objective standard sef so that all stdents CAN do it, wouldn't it be largely because students either choose ro, or not? Apart from that, Texas may have language issues; and I believe some states calculate it as Srs graduated / Srs starting; others may useSrs graduated / Fr started, 4 yrs back ,,, rgar would be lower.

maxutils said...

I misinterpreted the Texas one … the way I read it, you were lumping TX and OR together. So, apart from my idea about calculations … I've got nothing.

Ellen K said...

In Texas we are deluged by students from other countries who frequently come here as young teens without having received any prior education. They often speak little or no English and read and write even less. They quite often live in neighborhoods where they are immersed in their native language providing little incentive for acquiring English. As a result they cannot pass the end of course testing although it is given multiple times and every single district in the state provides free tutoring. Add to that the transient nature of this same demographic of students. It is not uncommon for us to get new students as late as May during the school year. As public school teachers we have to accept any student who shows they live in the attendance zone.

Social roles and the media also comes into play with graduation rates. While I'm in a diverse school where success is represented in all demographics, there is one testing group that is almost always lagging behind. We have tried offering snacks and free rides for them for after school tutoring, but their parents make excuses. So now we changed the entire school day schedule to have block lunches so that this same group can attend tutoring during the day without having to come early or stay late. Guess what. They still don't come. This group is young black males. They trail their female counterparts by ten points on average and the student population at large by 15 or more points on testing. And what is sad is that many of them see defiance in the media and think that grades at school are where they should make their stand.

When we look at the break out the additional factor to failure to graduate is the very active push for parents of disabled students to use the public schools as their education/daycare solutions. While some of these students can be educated, many of them will never truly graduate. And a great number of these same students are entitled to a "free, public education" until they age out at 21. Fear of litigious parents and the ADA has created a situation where no matter how hard we push, some students will be in our care for the long run.

Even as an art teacher I have tutored students in Language Arts. The students who showed up for tutorials by and large passes the EOC tests. But once again, even with incentives, bribes and begging, some students refuse to do anything to help their plight. And their parents support this attitude. I don't think there's anything as an individual teacher, school, district or state we can do to change the minds of those determined to fail at all costs.