Graduation Rates even Worse: Time for Some Flexibility
The latest “Exhibit A” of the old maxim that there are “lies, damn lies and statistics” comes with news that RI is graduating even fewer seniors out of High School than we thought.
Rhode Island’s high school graduation rate is 19 percentage points lower than previously reported, and at 70.1 percent hovers just under the national average of 70.6 percent, according to a new, more accurate method of tracking students.
Under the old formula, the state Department of Education reported that slightly more than 89 percent of the Class of 2007 had graduated. But, under the new formula, the percentage plummeted.
The new figure means about 3,000 students who should have received diplomas last year dropped out over a four-year period.
State education officials say that the old method for calculating graduation rates counted students who took longer than four years to graduate, while the new method, which is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Governors Association, does not, resulting in a 6 percentage point increase in the dropout rate.
In addition, many students who left school were previously recorded as “unknown” and were not counted as dropouts. The new system requires those students to be included in the dropout category.
If we didn’t have enough reason before, maybe this latest can provide the last bit of impetus to take up Cumberland Mayor Daniel McKee’s plan and open up those Mayoral Academies (PDF <--read it!)? The bill is in the House (PDF) and Gordon Fox approves, even though the entrenched education establishment in RI (including currently operating charter schools) are opposed to the idea. Who likes competition, right? It’s simple, really: to date, the unions and administrators and school boards and politicians haven’t seen fit to shake things up within the confines of the current system. Thus, because our education system has become ossified and inflexible, only innovation and something new will see us out of our current straits. If it’s REALLY about the children, shouldn’t we all be willing to try something new–something that has proven itself in other states–and work together to ensure success? To crib from somewhere….YES WE CAN!