Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor

Commentary Misleading on NAEP, Dropouts

October 23, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The recent Commentary “Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?” (Oct. 10, 2012), provides a problematic view of education progress that can easily backfire.

The authors fail to show and discuss the statistically flat performance in both reading and mathematics in the long-term-trend National Asssessment of Educational Progress for students at age 17, and use a clever graphic to hide nearly flat reading performance for students ages 9 and 13.

The real message of the long-term-trend NAEP is that the gains made in lower grades do not survive until high school graduation. This serious problem worries many.

The authors’ high school dropout claims are also problematic. Many researchers of high school completion distrust dropout-rate figures. This was one of the reasons why Congress elected to use high school graduation rates in the No Child Left Behind Act.

In addition, the specific dropout data selected by the authors—the National Center for Education Statistics’ “status dropout rate"—treats dropouts who later receive a General Educational Development credential as high school successes. Inclusion of GED recipients with regular high school diploma graduates further muddies the water as far as assessing the real performance of school systems. At present, the most reliable measure of high school completion is the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate, or AFGR.

Table 111 in the 2011 edition of the Digest of Education Statistics shows the U.S. public school AFGR in 1969-1970 was 78.7 percent. In 2008-09, it was only 75.5 percent. Even the projected rate for 2009-10 is only 76.3 percent.

Thus, the best available information on high school completion since 1970 shows that graduation rates actually are lower recently than in the early 1970s.

None of this factual information does much to boost public confidence in schools, of course. And, educators citing problematic commentaries to try to claim otherwise won’t boost that confidence level, either.

Richard Innes

Staff Education Analyst

Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Bowling Green, Ky.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the October 24, 2012 edition of Education Week as Commentary Misleading on NAEP, Dropouts

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
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
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
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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

College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says New Data Paint Bleak Picture of Students' Post High School Outcomes
Students are taking much longer to complete credentials after high school than programs plan.
2 min read
Student hanging on a tearing graduate cap tassel
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness This East Coast District Brought a Hollywood-Quality Experience to Its Students
A unique collaboration between a Virginia school district and two television actors allows students to gain real-life filmmaking experience.
6 min read
Bethel High School films a production of Fear the Fog at Fort Monroe on June 21, 2023.
Students from Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., film "Fear the Fog"<i> </i>at Virginia's Fort Monroe on June 21, 2023. Students wrote, directed, produced, and starred in the film through a partnership between their district, Hampton City Schools, and two television actors that's designed to give them applied, entertainment industry experience.
Courtesy of Hampton City Schools
College & Workforce Readiness A FAFSA Calculation Error Could Delay College Aid Applications—Again
It's the latest blunder to upend the "Better FAFSA," as it was branded by the Education Department.
2 min read
Jesus Noyola, a sophomore attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, poses for a portrait in the Folsom Library on Feb. 13, 2024, in Troy, N.Y. A later-than-expected rollout of a revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA, that schools use to compute financial aid, is resulting in students and their parents putting off college decisions. Noyola said he hasn’t been able to submit his FAFSA because of an error in the parent portion of the application. “It’s disappointing and so stressful since all these issues are taking forever to be resolved,” said Noyola, who receives grants and work-study to fund his education.
Jesus Noyola, a sophomore at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, stands in the university's library on Feb. 13, 2024, in Troy, N.Y. He's one of thousands of existing and incoming college students affected by a problem-plagued rollout of the revised Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FASFA, that schools use to compute financial aid. A series of delays and errors is resulting in students and their parents putting off college decisions.
Hans Pennink/AP
College & Workforce Readiness How Well Are Schools Preparing Students? Advanced Academics and World Languages, in 4 Charts
New federal data show big gaps in students' access to the challenging coursework and foreign languages they need for college.
2 min read
Conceptual illustration of people and voice bubbles.
Getty