Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Urban-suburban gap in grad rates; methods for computing grad rates

From today's NYT, "Large urban-suburban gap seen in graduation rates":

Noteworthy in this article is not only the gap in graduation rates, but also the discussion of how to compute graduation rates. The article points out that graduation rates were for decades overstated in official publications, for ex by counting students receiving GED certificates as graduates or by basing calculations on the percentage of enrolled 12th graders who received a diploma, disregarding students who had dropped out before 12th grade.

PURE Reform encountered this methodology problem when a Right to Know request for graduation rates at city high schools was met with a report showing extremely high graduation rates, in contradiction to statments being made at Pittsburgh Promise presentations about a high dropout rate in Pittsburgh. There does not yet seem to be clear information available on how the graduation rate in Pittsburgh may have changed over the last 3 years or so.


fixit said...

Terms like "overstated" applied to graduation rates really makes all data collection and interpretation of the results very suspect. And I do mean ALL. How about calling anyone who walks in a cap and gown across a stage to receive a paper diploma a GRADUATE? I worry that otherwise education "numbers" will become the ultimate shell game.

Questioner said...

There is a danger of that... for example, some have noted that summer credit recovery classes are much easier than regular classes.

Questioner said...

A question is, to what extent do HS grads earn more money because they have a diploma, and to what extent do they earn more money because they are people who have the discipline and make the effort to achieve a goal like a HS diploma? To the extent it is the latter, making the diploma easier to earn will not boost their earning prospects.