Friday, October 24, 2008

Ed Trust calls for Better Support for Schools to Improve Graduation rates

I've got an idea. Let's cut even more funding to public education and see if we can't improve graduation rates.

Hey wait! On second thought, let's follow the Education Trust's advice and better support the schools so that they might accomplish the important goals that have been set for them.

This from The Education Trust:

An Agenda for State Leadership

THE UNITED STATES IS THE ONLY INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRY in the world in which today’s young people are less likely than their parents to have completed high school. This is a startling turn for our nation, which prides itself on extending educational opportunity to everyone. To sustain the promise of the American education system as a ladder to economic, social, and civic success, high school graduation rates must improve for all young people—especially for the growing numbers of students of color.

By 2020, the nation’s African-American population is expected to increase by 10 percent, the Latino population by a full third. Yet today, more than one in every three students from these fast-growing groups do not graduate from high school on time ...

Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR), Class of 2006
Overall 73%
African American 59%
Asian 90%
Latino 61%
Native American 62%
White 81%

In 2005, the nation’s governors took an important step toward improving graduation rates by acknowledging that the inconsistent and often inaccurate ways states calculated graduation rates obscured the reality that far too few students were completing high school. Now, thanks to leadership of the National Governors Association (NGA), honest information about who is graduating and who is not is becoming more widely available as states begin to report their graduation rates according to a new, consistent, and more accurate calculation...

Ed Trust advises Governor Beshear to:

  • Make raising graduation rates a high priority.
  • Ensure the state budget protects current dropout-prevention programs and, if possible, adds funds to improve data quality, support for schools and students, and research and dissemination of successful strategies.

And to Joe Brothers and the State Board:

  • Set rigorous and gap-closing graduation-rate goals and improvement targets.
  • Establish policies that define and clarify student exit codes.

To Commissioner Draud:

  • Provide professional development for district and school staff to ensure they understand coding policies.
  • Establish quality-control mechanisms and audit protocols for graduation-rate data.
  • Identify schools that have improved their graduation rates, celebrate and disseminate their successes, and commission research on their best practices.

To Berman, Silberman, Marcum and the rest of the state's superintendents:

  • Perform school-level graduation-rate audits.
  • Use graduation-rate data to deploy resources to the schools and students who most need support.
...The stakes could hardly be higher when it comes to raising the academic achievement of America’s young people. But far too often, state policies and actions can betray indifference to the issue and a lack of confidence in students and educators alike. To avoid this, states can do at least three things:

(1) support school and district efforts to accurately account for all students,

(2) hold schools and districts accountable for real improvement, and

(3) generate a statewide focus on improving graduation rates. Otherwise, states will continue to undercut their needs for a skilled and knowledgeable workforce and hinder young people in their desire to lead successful, productive lives.

Of course, such efforts alone will not improve graduation rates.

Educators and students need to work harder, and policymakers must provide greater support to the schools and students who need it most. One thing is certain: State leaders must be more assertive in setting the conditions and expectations for higher graduation rates. With progress on all fronts, all students can enjoy independence and success, both of which begin with a high school diploma.

The map is from AP by way of H-L using Department of Education data.

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