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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making sense of high school graduation rates
BoardBuzz came across an interesting report on high school graduation
rates that for some reason seems to have slipped under the radar screen
of many in the education blogospheres. However, BoardBuzz is here to
tell you all about it. It's a report
lications&subSelect=papers written by Nobel Prize winning economist
James Heckman
bio.html that aims to provide a more accurate estimate of how many
students graduate high school with a diploma.
You may remember the Center for Public
FAA3/Welcome_to_the_Center_for_Public_Education.htm> report Calculating
high school graduation rates
4FD/Ataglance_Calculating_high_school_graduation_rates.htm that helps
readers understand how graduation rates are calculated and why they
differ. Heckman's report delves deeper into how different graduation
rates are calculated to provide some clarity in the debate over how many
students are actually graduating high school. By adjusting various
graduation rate calculations such as those reported by EdWeek, the U.S.
Census Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Education so that they are
making similar calculations on similar students, a more accurate
graduation rate would be estimated. As the Center's report stated, most
recent graduation rate estimates range from 66 to 88 percent. However,
Dr. Heckman found that it is actually closer to 77 percent. Similarly,
he also found that black and Hispanic students graduate around 65
percent of the time compared to some estimates of only 50 percent.
So, Dr. Heckman found that graduation rates were not as high as some had
thought, but not as low as others. What was most interesting was that
his report found that graduation rates have actually been declining over
the past 40 years instead of increasing as BoardBuzz and many others had
thought. BoardBuzz was particularly surprised to find out that the
decline is largely due to the decline in the number of males graduating
high school. Since the 1960's, the number of males graduating high
school has declined about 7 percentage points, while the female rate
remained relatively flat over that same time. This is a major factor
into the growing disparity between males and females in college
Although a more accurate measure of how many students are receiving a
high school diploma will not do anything to prepare more students for
life after high school in and of itself, it does provide school board
members and other policymakers with a more accurate assessment of the
problem so they can develop policies to reverse this trend of declining
graduation rates, especially for males and minority students.
For more information on Graduation Rates and other important educational
issues of the day check out

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