Happening Today: Education Week Leadership Symposium. Learn more and register.
Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor

Commentary Misleading on NAEP, Dropouts

October 23, 2012 1 min read

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
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
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 Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
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
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

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 Opinion There’s Insurance for Homes or Cars—Why Not College Degrees?
Rick Hess talks with Wade Eyerly, the CEO of Degree Insurance, about the company's plan to make investing in a college degree less risky.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Fewer Students in Class of 2020 Went Straight to College
First-year college enrollment dropped steeply last year, a study finds, and the declines were sharpest among poorer students.
6 min read
Image shows University Application Acceptance Notification Letter with ACCEPTED Stamp
YinYang/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor Are Students Ready for Post-Pandemic Reality?
Schools must make improving students' essential skills a priority for college and career success, says the CEO and president of CAE.
1 min read
College & Workforce Readiness This Is Not a Good Time to Fall Off the College Track. Students Are Doing It Anyway
Fewer students in the Class of 2021 are applying for college financial aid, continuing a drop that started last year.
6 min read
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the decline.
Applications for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form are on the decline.
Jon Elswick/AP