Monday, October 18, 2004

How Many Students Really Graduate?

I thought I would share this posting from Bill Callahan's Cleveland Diary


I looked at the Cleveland school levy campaign's new website yesterday, and was shocked to see a claim repeated in several places that the CMSD's 2004 graduation rate was 47%. (The site actually says that this was a near-doubling of a 28% grad rate in 1996, which raises its own big questions, but that's another story.) So I went to the Ohio Department of Education site and found their current report card numbers for the CMSD.
Lo and behold, they're showing a graduation rate of 49.4% for the Class of 2004!

As far as I can tell, this is the only way to find the number... it's not on the 2003-2004 District Report Card, which lists the Class of 2003 grad rate (about 41%... hence my mistake in the chart here, for which I must now apologize.)

The campaign's use of 47% instead of 49% may betray some nervousness about ODOE's figure at the School Administration Building. And I'd still like to know where Byrd-Bennett is getting that 28% figure for 1996, since the last published version of the grad rate for that year was ten points higher. But neither of these points matters much compared to this: After losing 60-70% of every graduating class since the mid-90's and before, has the School District actually managed to get diplomas into the hands of almost half of the kids who started high school four years ago?

If so, the district -- and the kids -- deserve a loud, sustained round of applause. This would undeniably be major progress that should give a significant boost to the levy campaign

My comment to Bill was:

I am not positive about the source for that number, but I will venture a guess. Figures for graduation rates in past years have had numerous flaws in data collection. For example; Any student who left the district was listed as a nongraduate, even if they did graduate from high school in another school district. Because CMSD's student population is so transient, this may have accounted for a large percentage of students who were listed as nongraduates. A while ago I heard that these issues were being looked at by the state auditors. This could very well be the reason for the big jump in the percentage rate

There are many other flaws in the data collection for figures concerning high school graduates in Cleveland.
In the same building that houses Max Hayes High School, is a program for high school students over the age of 18 called Cleveland Extension High School. This school schedules classes to accommodate older students who are also holding jobs. If a Max Hayes student turns 18 and opts to take the adult classes to finish their diploma requirements, the fact that the student left the regular high school program is counted AGAINST the graduation rate for Max Hayes High School, even though they take classes in the same building and receive their diploma from the same principal.

The GED program for Cleveland is also located in our building. GED recipients are also not factored into Cleveland Schools graduation rate, although passing the test does signify graduation equivalency.

Gives you something to think about eh?

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