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Pa. lags behind nation in graduation rate improvement

By Dale Mezzacappa on Feb 25, 2013 06:40 PM
Photo: Flickr/jessiejacobson

A new Graduation Nation report shows that the country is on track to reach a 90 percent high school graduation rate by 2020. Pennsylvania, however, is one of 23 states not on track to reach that milestone -- largely due to lagging progress in graduating Black and Latino students.

Pennsylvania is one of 20 states in which the African American graduation rate is below 66 percent, and one of 16 states in which the Latino graduation rate is below 66 percent (both are 65 percent). The gap between White and Black graduation rates and White and Latino graduation rates is, in both cases, 23 percentage points. The White graduation rate in Pennsylvania now stands at 88 percent.

Although Pennyslvania has a higher overall graduation rate at 83 percent than the nation as a whole (78.2 percent), it will not attain the goal because much of the overall improvement nationally is due to much better rates for Black and Latino students. Pennsylvania lags too far behind in those groups to catch up in seven years.

The average yearly improvement in the graduation rate between 2006 and 2010 is 1.25 percentage points. Pennsylvania's improvement was 0.4 point.

The number of “dropout factories,” or high schools in which the graduation class is less than 60 percent of the entering freshman class four years before, has declined markedly between 2002 and 2011, according to the report. The biggest reduction in dropout factories was in the South, which cut its number in half, and, generally, in suburbs and towns. Cities showed a much smaller decline.

Nationally, in 2002, 46 percent of African American and 39 percent of Latino students attended "dropout factories." By 2011, that had dropped to 25 percent of Blacks and 17 percent of Latinos, largely due to steep drops in the numbers of those schools in states like Florida and Texas.

According to the data, Pennyslvania didn't show a steep decline in dropout factories, most located in Philadelphia and other urban areas. There were 43 dropout factories in Pennsylvania in 2011, compared to 48 in 2002.

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Comments (5)

Submitted by Poogie (not verified) on February 26, 2013 8:20 am
This is nonsense. The quality of the graduates is questionable. In Philadelphia we have grade improvement after school, on Saturday and they probably go to the kids house to pretend that put in some minimum work. And if that fails they go to the Oasis program to sit for a couple of hours in front of a computer and viola a high school diploma appears. These graduates are then good for what work since we have taught them you can show up late, ignore deadlines and in the end we will bail you out??? Great traits for future workers.
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on February 26, 2013 9:40 am
while i don't condone "made up work" i am in favor of make up work. the difference being the later is real work that brings the child to a minimum competency level. i say this because high schools regularly get kids that are 4th grade or below i academic ability and the job in high school then becomes get them as close to 9th grade skills as possible. that should be enough to read the paper, understand basic contracts and agreements, and provides a foundation for additional edcuation. while i commend you for demanding high standards, it is important to understand that most of these kids are the victims of bad education, not the cause of it. so we shouldn't let them out knowing nothing. but, when it is clear that a student who has followed all the rules, attended school every day, made a honest effort, and still finds her'himself a short of hs school level competency, there needs to be a lifeline. these students can take a longer journey to being educated, but they can get there. otherwise, they are punished for their birth circumstances.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on February 26, 2013 2:51 pm
Your comment/experience that many students arrive at high school with 4th grade or below skills is heartbreaking. I am very curious about why this happens. I am aware that laws that may play a part in social promoting but I don't understand why the PFT doesn't make a serious effort to have students held back until they master the basic reading and math skills they need for success in higher grades. Why not educate parents about the damage social promotion causes and partner with them in demanding a stop to it? Thank you for any insight you or your colleagues can offer.
Submitted by matt (not verified) on February 26, 2013 7:52 pm
I'm in agreement regarding the high school's job at that point. Sometimes, reformer, the things you type seem primarily agenda driven, but I think that true care for students shows through in the post I'm replying to. As a math teacher in high school, I wish that we had courses to catch kids up (something like math foundations I & II) that could precede algebra I (only for the kids that really needed it) and that we would count those courses toward math graduation requirements (so that maybe the kid would only get to the geometry level, but s/he would really understand algebra I and geometry, along with arithmetic and pre-algebra, rather than getting nominal credits in all high school level math courses, but never really grasping any of the concepts).
Submitted by reformer (not verified) on February 27, 2013 5:26 am
my points here is always about the same agenda. if this is truly about the kids, we wouldn't be worried about who is doing it or how they're doing it. we would be focused on their academic growth. but when posters want to assign detestable motives to anyone not toiling in a pft shop, the gloves come off. i know that high schools are too often saddled with an end results that it had little chance to affect. that's not fair to anyone involved.

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