Many high school principals have privately complained in years past about there not being a consistent way of reporting graduation and dropout statistics.
This fall the Indianapolis Star ran a series on graduation rates and dropouts in an effort to bring public attention to the issue.
Unfortunately, after a number of pretty decent editorials, they go too far with this one.
The Star's version of graduation rates is just as twisted as the old high school rates.
Here are a few quotes from the Star:
IPS, with a graduation rate of 39 percent in 2005, remains home to the region's worst dropout factories.
The failure of state and local educators to report realistic graduation rates, however, conceals such dismal performance. Says (Stan )Jones: "They think their schools have nice facilities and things are fine, when in fact things are not."
Inflated graduation numbers have lulled the public into believing that dropping out is rare. It's not.
Read through this list of Indy area schools
and then look at the Star's definition of "graduation."
The Star's editorial board's calculations were made by taking the number of seniors graduating in 2005 and comparing it to the number of 8th graders in 2001. Couldn't get it more simple...and couldn't get it more wrong. Just as wrong as many of the "bloated" high school rates they are taking to task.
The Star claims that the Indianapolis Public Schools has a graduation rate of 39%. However, compare this 39% statistic to the Census Data
( note: click on the county for which you want stats - wait for the red arrow and click when the hand appears) which shows the percentage of adults over the age of 25 in Marion County with high school diplomas is 81.6%. Is there a disconnect? I guess there could be. Maybe 42.6% of them all leave the county or finish up high school before they turn 25. Or maybe this is a new version of the famous economic "brain drain" problem in Indiana? :-)
Except where do they go? Here are all the counties surrounding Marion county and the percentages of adults over 25 with high school diplomas.
Marion County 81.6%
Hamilton County 94.2%
Boone County 88.3 %
Hendricks County 88.5%
Morgan County 80.7%
Johnson County 85.7%
Shelby County 79.8%
Hancock County 87.8%
According to Census Data placed on the Department of Education website for the Indianapolis Public Schools, the percentage of adults WITHOUT a high school diploma in the IPS area has been reduced from 41.3% in 1980 to 28.3 % in 2000
. This improvement trend was the same in almost every single school corporation on the Star's list.
I suppose the true graduation rates are closer to the census data numbers than they are the old "glorified" graduation rates the high schools reported or the Star's pessimistic view.