May 23, 2006

More grad rates debates

Via NCLBlog comes the tip of Jay Mathews's story today on the grad-rate debate, along with sidebars by Mishel and Roy and Greene and Winters, respectively. Greene and Winters are pegging most of their rebuttal on an accounting argument that asks where about half a million graduates are, if you accept their claims about how many should be graduating given Mishel's and Roy's arguments.

I finally had a chance to listen to the April 27 live debate between Mishel and Greene at the National Press Club. For most of it, I think Mishel ate Greene's lunch. But that's about debating points.

In the long run, Mishel's argument has some serious weaknesses. In terms of the National Educational Longitudinal Sample that started in 1988, it's well-known that the sample exclusion was about 5 percent of the population. Assuming a small problem in attrition of 1-2 percent, and it's plausible that the NELS graduation stats are overestimated for that cohort by 6-8 percent. Then there's the question of cohort effects. The federal statistics suggest that for its semi-official rates (event dropout rate, status dropout rate, and completion rate), this cohort was unusually likely to graduate and unusually unlikely to drop out. So I'm not sure that looking to NELS really says that much.

Here is where being slow and cautious is a professional disadvantage. I haven't had the time to turn any analysis from my perspective into an article, but I think I need to, at least with regard to the effects of migration on estimates of graduation.

Listen to this article
Posted in Research on May 23, 2006 4:33 PM |