The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

So how bad is it?


So how bad is it? The high school dropout rate. If you haven't researched it then your answer is probably predicated on how you already feel about public schools in general.

Is the glass half empty or half full? Here are some excerpts from, "Rethinking High School Graduation Rates and Trends," by Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy.

The overall high school graduation rate with a regular diploma is between 80% and 83%, with the best data (NELS) showing an 82% rate. All of the household and longitudinal data sources show a higher graduation rate than the two-thirds rate computed using the school-based enrollment/diploma data.

Estimates of the black rate of graduation from high school with a regular diploma range between 69% and 75%, with the NELS showing a 74% graduation rate. This is substantially higher than the frequently alleged 50% rate for blacks, reported from the school-based enrollment/diploma data. Moreover, the NELS data suggest that the alleged 50% dropout rate is double the actual dropout rate for blacks. In fact, the dropout rate for blacks is closer to 25% and roughly half of those obtain a GED, which allows entry into post-secondary education, the military, and other second-chance systems. Estimates of Hispanic high school graduation rates with a regular diploma range between 61% and 74%, with the NELS showing a 74% rate. This is substantially higher than the frequently alleged 50% rate for Hispanics reported from the school-based enrollment/ diploma data. Further, these data do not account for the additional 9% to 12% of Hispanics who receive a GED, which allows entry into post-secondary education, the military, and other second-chance systems.


There remain substantial race/ethnic gaps in graduation rates with regular diplomas. Analysis of census data shows that in 2000, for those ages 25-29, there was a black-white gap of about 15 percentage points and a Hispanic-white gap of 23 percentage points.

High school completion (either by diploma or GED) grew substantially from 1960 to the early to mid-1990s. This study looked at those aged 25-29 and found that in 1962 only 41.6% of blacks and 69.2% of whites completed high school, a 27.6 percentage point racial gap. By 1980 the racial gap had been cut by 63% to 10.3 percentage points, with both blacks and whites improving their graduation rates (to 86.9% for whites and to 76.6% for blacks). The racial gap was closed further to 6.0 percentage points by 1994 and to 5.0 percentage points by 2004.


Trends in Hispanic graduation rates are difficult to track since it is important to be able to identify recent immigrants who were not enrolled in U.S. schools. This can be done with the data from 1994 and more recent years and the data reveal that the Hispanic completion rate (either by diploma or GED) has grown from 76% to 81.3% from 1994 to 2004.


The overall conclusion of this study shows that American high school graduation rates are at the highest levels in history. The "Chicken Little - The Sky is Falling" rhetoric regarding dropout rates is not standing up to researcher's peer reviews.

While it is true that the rate of increase in graduation rates has slowed in recent years, that too must be viewed in light of the increased academic rigor that most states have added to the high school program.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I get tired of the school system getting “beaten up" for drop outs.

Talk to most teachers, they are doing every thing they can to meet the goals set by those who have relatively little education back ground. Some kids have to leave the public education system to learn they need to complete an education. Some kids never learn this. Teachers on a whole care very much about their students, they work very hard to meet every student’s needs. There is no perfect solution to give a complete education to every child in the school system. Accept it.

I commend our teachers for being so successful in their efforts to get as many kids to graduate from High School. You as parents know how hard it is to motivate your child to do any thing. Imagine having a class room full of kids like this. Parents also need to accept responsibility for not motivating their children to graduate.

I wonder what school would be like if Mark Stock did not have to waste his time defending the graduation rate or what ever else political education issue that comes up.

It is time to thank our school system (teachers, secretaries, janitors, cooks, bus drivers, administration and superintendent) for giving our kids the knowledge, care, love, consideration and education they need. Get off their backs and let them know they are doing a good job.

Rich Hays

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Rich makes an interesting point about the amount of time spent debating, defending and discussing the implications of various school policies and practices.

As long as schools are designed to be governed in a political model this is likely to be true. In the political model the tools of debate, discussion, arguing, defending and critiquing will always be the primary tools used by administrators on the job.

Neil Postman wrote in one of his books that "America was the only country in the world that was argued into existence."

Because public schools were designed to be governed in this democratic/political model, it follows that the chief administrator will need to spend most of his/her time using these political tools to do their job.

It does get wearisome from time to time and like Rich, I sometimes wonder how much progress could be made if we spent ALL of our time on just IMPROVING things instead of explaining them to the public.

The public has to realize however, that this is not a reasonable expectation as long as public schools are publicly governed.

And I still think they should be.