March 17 — 5:01 pm, 2009

Class of 2006: How many graduated, how many dropped out

Understanding the numbers

The class of 2006 – students who started high school in fall 2002 – is the most recent cohort of students for whom a six-year graduation rate is available. Of that class in the School District of Philadelphia, nearly 60 percent had graduated by the summer of 2008, with 38 percent having dropped out.

The school-by-school data on the Class of 2006 show that about half the high schools had dropout rates of 40 percent or more. Also the graduation and dropout rates corresponded very closely to the type of schools. (Click on the chart below to enlarge it.)

Graduation rates were highest at special admission “magnet” schools, which each have their own set of admissions criteria including standardized test scores, attendance, punctuality, behavior, and grades. Citywide admission schools do not have test score cutoffs, and their admission criteria are less stringent for grades, behavior, and attendance. Neighborhood schools have open admissions for students in their feeder pattern, and the chart shows nearly all had high dropout rates. Disciplinary schools are intended to be transitional schools.

There are many ways to calculate graduation rates. For the school rates reported here by the School District, the method used is different from some other calculations of school graduation rates such as for Adequate Yearly Progress reports.

Students are counted as graduates or dropouts at the schools where they were enrolled for the first time as ninth graders, even if they later transfer to (and graduate or drop out from) other schools in the District. Research indicates that ninth grade is a pivotal transition year for student success, and one advantage of this methodology is that students who end up attending multiple schools are attributed to the school where they started that key year.

The six-year cohort graduation and dropout rates given here are calculated by tracking each group of first-time freshman through their high-school years. Students who leave the District (for example, move to another city) are excluded from the rate calculations. The dropout and graduation rates do not always add to 100 percent, because in many cases a small number of students is still enrolled more than two years after the on-time graduation date of their cohort.

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