June 5, 2008

Bristol's real graduation rate much lower than touted?

According to a new new analysis, Bristol reported a graduation rate of 93.3 percent in 2005. But the real rate was just 69.2, according to the new study.
That's a whopping gap and, if true, a frighteningly low graduation rate. Is it possible that three in 10 Bristol students don't even graduate from high school? Wow.
I'll report later what city school officials have to say in response.
In the meantime, here's the press release accompanying the newly released information:

New Report Finds Connecticut’s High School Graduation Rates Are Overstated and Declining

Analysis Reveals Gaps as Large as 39 Points, Major Shifts in Largest Districts Over Past Decade

In June 2007, ConnCAN released its first comparison of official district graduation rates, calculated by the Connecticut State Department of Education, and independent rates, calculated by Education Week’s Research Center for its Diplomas Count project. The study was downloaded more than 2,000 times from the ConnCAN website, helping to spark a constructive dialogue across Connecticut and providing an important boost to the effort to more accurately measure Connecticut’s graduation rates.

Findings from this new June 2008 follow-up analysis by ConnCAN include:

? The overall graduation rate for Connecticut in the Diplomas Count study was 13.1 points lower than the official statewide average of 91.2 percent—the 14th largest disparity among the 50 states.

? Connecticut’s statewide graduation rate declined 1.8 points from 79.8 percent to 78.1 percent between 2004 and 2005.

? Among the three largest districts in Connecticut, the gap between the official and independent rates was 33.7 points in Hartford, 22.6 points in New Haven, and 20.5 points in Bridgeport.

? Since 1997, Bridgeport’s graduation rate, as measured in Diplomas Count, increased almost 10 points, from 44.7 to 54.2, and Hartford’s graduation rate increased more than 5 points, from 33.5 to 38.6. By contrast, New Haven’s graduation rate declined almost 10 points, from 61.9 to 52.4.

? The Diplomas Count project found that the official graduation rates overstated the percentage of students graduating in four years with a diploma in 94 percent of Connecticut districts.

? In seven districts the graduation rates were overstated by 25 or more points: West Haven (38.8 points), Hartford (33.7), Bloomfield (32.5), Manchester (29.5), Windham (26.6), Middletown (26.3) and Putnam (25.8).

A school system’s high school graduation rate is one of the most important indicators of its success. Research has demonstrated that, on average:

? High school dropouts earn just 37 cents for every dollar earned by high school graduates.
? High school dropouts live 9 years less than high school graduates.
? Every 10 percent increase in high school graduation rates is correlated with a 13 percent lower rate of auto thefts and a 20 percent lower rate of murders and assaults.

The Diplomas Count report comes on the heels of a national push to measure high school graduation rates more accurately, including the adoption of a “Compact on State High School Graduation Data” developed by the National Governors Association (NGA) and endorsed by Alliance for Excellent Education, Association of American Colleges & Universities, Education Commission of the States, National Education Association, and The Education Trust. The compact, signed by the governors of all 50 states including Gov. Rell, calls for a uniform standard based on: 1) four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates, 2) longitudinal data tracking individual students from preschool through postsecondary education, and 3) straightforward annual reports on rates of graduations, completions and dropouts.

While it is not yet possible based on available Connecticut data to perform longitudinal tracking of individual students, the rates calculated by Education Week’s Research Center, drawing upon results from the U.S. Department of Education’s Common Core of Data (CCD), move us closer to the goals of the NGA’s “Compact on State High School Graduation Data.”

Four-year graduation rates were calculated using the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) method. As recommended by the Compact, this approach represents graduating from high school as a four-year process from 9th through 12th grade, rather than a single event, and measures graduation based on receipt of a standard diploma rather than a GED or other equivalency degrees. Since this approach is not able to track individual students with existing data, however, one limitation is that it cannot distinguish between students who dropout and those who transfer to parochial, private or other out-of-district schools, and includes all such students in the category of “non-graduates” of the system.

Fully implementing the recommendations of the NGA will require a new state data system that uses unique student identifiers to track the movement of students between schools and districts within Connecticut, as recommended in ConnCAN’s “Great Schools for All” plan. In 2007, $6.4 million over two years was included in the state education budget to support the creation of a state longitudinal data system and the State Department of Education is currently working to develop this new system.

“Graduation rates are too important an indicator of educational success to not have the most accurate data possible,” said Alex Johnston, executive director of ConnCAN. “This new study adds to the urgency to create and fully implement a comprehensive and publicly-accessible system for tracking the progress of every public school student in our state.”

# # #

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) is a statewide outreach, education, and research organization working to close Connecticut’s achievement gap. To learn more visit: www.conncan.org.

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com


Anonymous said...

In order to compare these 2 indices one most compare and contrast the methodolgies used to calculate the respective index. Until that is accomplished I am not sure the author can reach the stated conclusion.

Anonymous said...

With the growing hispanic (Puerto Rican) population in Bristol, the graduation rate is lower.

Solution: Build more prisons.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that the City hands of 100.1 Million for what?

Anonymous said...

There is a program in Bristol for students that drop out of main stream classes. They enter into a semi-adult education class that enables them to get their GED. I know some students that have done that because the mainstream environment was too much for them to handle.

Do the figures you stated include those students that get their GED from Bristol?

Steve Collins said...

The press release says the study did not count those who got GEDs. And that doesn't strike me as a mistake, either, because the goal should be to have every student graduate from high school with an education that provides them the foundation to soar in this world.
While a GED is a whole lot better than nothing -- and some incredible people only got GEDs -- they are generally regarded as less than a high school diploma.

Anonymous said...

Can we deport any illegal immigrants back to their homeland and then subtract that number from the equation?

Tom B. said...

Right now the graduation rates are reported by the district to the State Dept. of Ed. I suspect that some of those 30% leave a district during high school and aren't tracked to the new district.

Connecticut started tracking every student based on individual student information starting in 2006-2007 which should help with this problem.

Anonymous said...

I know for a fact that as soon as under achievers at BCHS turn 16 years of age, they are encouraged to go to Bristol Adult Ed just so they do not have to be counted in their graduation statistics. I often questioned this practics myself. They want these kids, most of them minorities, out of the building ASAP so as not to blemish the record. This way the staff does not have to deal with them. I do know though that block scheduling and the elimination of the lower academic track at the high schools has presented it's challenges. Also, a lot of these kids are extremely disruptive. Unfortunately, large school systems never get better. Another sign of the times.

Anonymous said...

To quote President Bush - "Is our children learning?"

Anonymous said...

Everything will be better when we build those expensive megaschools!

Anonymous said...

When and for how long didn't Nicastro raise taxes?

Anonymous said...

What proof is out there that throwing money at education solves its problems?

Anonymous said...

June 5, 2008 1:32 PM:

Just can't help Bush-bashing can you? Well Teddy "I left you to drown Mary Jo" Kennedy was a big proponent of "No Child Left Behind", so bring that up at the next AFT meeting.

Anyone with any edjewcashun knows that the reason kids fail is their home life and the fact that public school teachers are awarded every year for being incompetent.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry all, Art Ward will fix everything. He is on top of all public policy issues. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Anonymous said...

Money can improve the education situation, but not the social problems that cause serious education problems.

Anonymous said...

When they build those monster primary schools, (not the optimum learning environment) the kids will drop out even faster when they reach the upper levels and have the choice.

It's about time they started tracking and reporting how many enter high school, and how many actually graduate.

So at approximately $9,OOO per year per student, how much of our tax dollars are wasted if just one student fails to graduate from high school and can't earn a decent living?
The "free" public education system depends on "future pay back" of the public's investement - ie, the future earnings of the students.

Seems to me Bristol has chosen to create a school system destined for failure.

School size matters.

The bigger you build them, the more you lose.

Anonymous said...

Research indicates that students participating in a school choice program are more likely to graduate than those in public schools. Rather than talking about pouring money into building new mega schools, Bristol should consider vouchers to let students and their parents choose what school to attend.

Anonymous said...

Art "Al Haig" I'm in charge here.

Anonymous said...

If each school had to compete for students, (ie, sell themselves to the parents);
and if the administrators of those schools were held finacially accountable for the academic performance of their charges (since they are basically under a service contract to "make'm learn"),
it would be interesting to see who would be getting the raises (and how often), and who would be proposing those monster primary schools!

And what a wonderful world THAT would be, eh?

Anonymous said...

6/6 3:29 pm.

Yeah, it's that simple! I'm sure all those parents of the dropouts will be carefully comparing the educational offerings of the schools in your plan.

Do you think the dropout rate could be attributed to something other than teacher's salaries and Bristol's schools? How about the fact that maybe graduating from high school is not viewed as important to some parents especially those who were dropouts themselves and are living on welfare?