Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brooks' many, well, two, successes

In defending their decision to address APS Supt Winston Brooks repeated faux pas by suspending him for three days, School Board President Marty Esquivel pointed to two feathers in Brooks' cap; he has lead two successful bond issue campaigns and has raised APS' graduation rate to near 70%.

I would like to shed a little light on "Brooks'" success in raising graduation rates.  During Brooks' tenure, the method for calculating graduation rates has changed at least twice.  Both times, the new method raised graduation rates completely independently of any actual success in preparing students to graduate.

One might think that calculating a graduation rate is easy; divide the number of students who actually graduate after four years in high school, by the total number of students.  In reality, a number of mathematical machinations are employed to affect the total number.

For example, it was decided that students would have five years to graduate not four.  Regardless of how one feels about that change, it has the effect of raising graduation rates without having to do a better job educating students.  Brooks also benefited from a change which dropped students who failed the 9th grade once from the calculation entirely, link.  The students least likely to graduate are simply not counted anymore.  Again, the graduation rate sans early failures, was raised without actually improving anything.

Graduation rates may have risen during his tenure, but Brooks cannot reasonably take credit for them, unless he takes credit for the mathematical sleight of hand that enabled them.  And Marty Esquivel et al cannot reasonably give him credit for them.  They are being disingenuous at best - deliberately misleading at worst.

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