June 29, 2006

Florida graduation rates inflated

The paper linked from this blog entry describes how Florida's Department of Education inflates the official longitudinal graduation rate by approximately 9-10% through two statistical definitions:

  • It excludes from public-school responsibility all those dropouts who immediately enroll in GED programs.
  • It includes GED and special-education diplomas in the general graduation rate.

I have discussed this problem before in this space, but until recently I did not have data to quantify how these definitional quirks affect the actual numbers. In the last two weeks, staff from the Department of Education sent me additional (if limited) information on the cohort calculations at the state and county levels since 1999, and they allowed me to correct at least one of the problems (the excusal of so-called W26 withdrawals from school responsibility) and take a decent guess at the effect of the other.

Part of this information appears in the manuscript I've sent off to a peer-reviewed article, and usually I frown on touting research publicly until it's been reviewed. Yet the reports released last week by Ed Week and the U.S. DOE have given me an opportunity to point out some of the problems. And you will find that much of the detail here would never be publishable in a national refereed research journal—it's too specific to Florida in some instances. Yet it should be available publicly. So, what's the ethical stance?

What I've chosen to do is release it here on my blog and send it to Florida education reporters, but no announcement to national reporters. And I think I'm careful in the paper itself to explain that it is not a refereed publication. The analysis is pretty simple, and anyone can do it.

Listen to this article
Posted in Research on June 29, 2006 12:21 PM |