Thursday, April 23, 2009

APS graduation rates are falling; or, they are rising; or, maybe they're not changing at all.

In the Journal this morning, link, education reporter
Andrea Schoellkopf reports that a recent study called;
"Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap"
places APS 45th of 50 large city school districts in high school
graduation rates (somewhere on the order of 50% or fewer
students actually graduating from high school).

APS' Rose-Ann McKernan, Executive Director of APS
Research, Data and Accountability,
is reported to have
said that the numbers are misleading because they don't
account for APS' increasing numbers of students that are on
five-year plans instead of the usual four-year stint in high school.

She said the APS data differ from the study because the district
tracks individual students from ninth grade to graduation to
come up with its rate, whereas the study used "enrollment
trends from grade to grade".

APS' own figures put graduation rates as low as 44%.

School Board President Marty Esquivel reportedly
offered as a mitigating circumstance; ".

.. the way graduation rates are counted is "just extremely
misleading, ..."
Why? After more than a century of practice, why can't the
APS come up with useful and reliable statistics?

Adding to the problem, the numbers that everyone is using
are no more recent than the 2005 school year. In an age of
super high speed computers, one has to wonder why more
recent data is not being used.

The bottom line; on yet another issue,
APS stakeholders don't know the whole truth,
can't hold anyone accountable, even if they wanted to.

Worth noting;
the APS Research, Data and Accountability Division,
by their own free admission, has never formally surveyed staff
or students on the issues that stand between students and an
on time graduation.

All of this is entirely consistent with APS' long standing policy
of "gather no data" that can be used to actually hold anybody
accountable for anything.

A policy that so far,
has held the leadership of the APS in good stead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Statistics, especially governmental or marketing, can always be manipulated to look good for the one who initiated or funded the statistics project. The US government manipulates statistics all the time to prove whatever they want to prove. It's not lying, it's manipulation of data.
However, I have to laugh at the irony that APS' data is so damning on all levels that they can't even manipulate it to look good. The only option left is to lye, or make the data up, which could put them in a real snafu.... (this enforced honesty many thanks to you and your blog)
When I came to APS 9 years ago, I expressed many times my concerns that minority students were failing so much worse per capita than their white counterparts, and that something needed to be done: more minority counselors, more funding for tutorials, more funding for ESL English literacy programs, etc... I was labeled a "Racist" in an effort to shut me up. I guss it worked... I was appalled that such a tactic would be employed when I was trying to HELP minority students.
I suppose such tactics are common in APS, now they reap their "rewards": a failing system, a corrupt school board, a cowardly throw-a-neonazi-principal-to-RGHS superintendent Brooks, the weak Beth Everitt, etc..
Unfortunately, the true losers are the students and their futures.