College & Workforce Readiness

What’s a Remarkable Grad Rate? For Latinos? For ELLs?

By Mary Ann Zehr — August 06, 2009 1 min read

In critiquing a 17 percent decrease in the dropout rate in Los Angeles over the course of one year, Eduflack notes that folks shouldn’t be too excited about the decline in the number of dropouts, given that the dropout rate for Los Angeles schools is still 26.4 percent. “Readers of the LA Times [which reported the 17 percent decrease] should be horrified that a quarter of students are dropping out long after they are pleased with a 5.3 percent reduction in the number of drop outs,” Patrick Riccards of Eduflack says.

My colleague Catherine Gewertz over at High School Connections had a similar reaction when she heard that Valley High School in Las Vegas had been named a high-achieving turnaround school, when it had a graduation rate of 55 percent. She questioned whether the school shouldn’t need a higher graduation rate for it to be held out as a model of achievement for other schools.

Both the Los Angeles School District and Valley High School have large numbers of Latino students, so their graduation rates are linked to the fact that Latinos are more likely than other ethnic and racial groups to drop out of school.

As I’ve read Eduflack’s and Gewertz’s observations, I’ve been thinking to myself, “What would be considered a commendable graduation rate for a school with a lot of Latinos and ELLs?”

As I’ve mentioned recently on this blog, in the school district in Brownsville, Texas, where almost all students are Latino, the graduation rate is not much over half of students—53 percent. For ELLs, it’s 27 percent. I couldn’t find anyone in Brownsville when I visited in 2008 who thought those rates were good ones.

I’ve only ever visited one school that was proud of its graduation rate for English-language learners. That was Brooklyn International High School in New York City. When I visited in 2007, the four-year grad rate for students who were still ELLs at graduation was 65 percent.

What do you think? Would it be commendable if all school districts could reach a graduation rate of 65 percent for ELLs?

If you know of a school, or even better, if you know of a school district that has a remarkable graduation rate for English-language learners or Latinos, please let all of us know.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.