Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Graduation-Rate Tool and ‘Oversimplified Estimates’

June 11, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In the description of the online graduation-rate mapping tool produced by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, a corporate sibling of Education Week, the claim is made that “for the first time, comparable, reliable data on graduation rates will be readily available for every school district in the country” (“New Graduation Rate Resource,” www.edweek.org, April 25, 2007). The Cumulative Promotion Index has serious flaws that make it anything but comparable or reliable, however.

First, it completely ignores the effect of student transfers and population changes in a district. For example, a student who transfers to another school and graduates from there is treated the same as a dropout for the school that the student transferred from, and a school that receives a lot of transfers could have a graduation rate of over 100 percent, regardless of its dropout rate.

Second, the Cumulative Promotion Index method itself doesn’t calculate what it claims to, which is “the probability that a student in the 9th grade will complete high school on time with a regular diploma.” To correctly make this calculation, you would need to follow the same student from 9th grade through graduation, but the index’s oversimplified estimate just compares current-year populations with prior-year populations across grade levels. Moreover, data taken from only two years are highly susceptible to year-to-year population changes that have nothing to do with graduation rates. For small schools and regions where many families move to new school districts every few years, this percentage can be many times larger than the dropout rate.

Finally, and most importantly for many school districts, the index doesn’t address demographic differences. Schools with a high percentage of limited-English-proficient students have a significant disadvantage in their overall on-time graduation rates when compared with schools that are almost entirely composed of students who have grown up speaking English.

I urge the EPE Research Center to present meaningful calculations of graduation rates instead of, or at least along with, its Cumulative Promotion Index.

Jason Sowalla

Manassas Park, Va.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)