April 30, 2005

Failure rates

The St Pete Times story on high-school graduation-test failures in Pinellas County (which includes St. Petersburg) reports that approximately 10 percent of seniors in the county have failed their last-chance try at the high-school graduation test in Florida. They will be receiving "certificates of completion" rather than a standard diploma—an exit document that is useless to adults.

It is important to keep in mind that the 10 percent failure rate is not for all students but just those who have stuck it out through their senior year. The research is murky on whether graduation tests add a serious obstacle beyond course requirements for graduation (e.g., the requirement that students pass an algebra class to receive a standard diploma), but if so, the greatest effect would probably be encouraging students to drop out well before they are seniors. The best measure available, which is Florida's state official graduation rate, is longitudinal rather than calculated year by year, so it's difficult to track what happens over time.

Yes, this is one of the motivations for my starting up the dropout research again.

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Posted in Education policy on April 30, 2005 7:08 AM |