Jun 13, 2007 Toledo Blade story
Toledo Public Schools' high school graduation rate in 2004 was just 37 percent or it was 70.4 percent - depending on whom you ask. A report called "Diplomas Count: Ready for What? Preparing for College, Careers, and Life After High School,"
released yesterday by Education Week
. magazine, compiled the 2003-04 graduation rates for every state and also showed detailed comparisons of every school district in the nation.
The report showed the lower graduation rate for TPS while the school system itself reported the higher number, using the state of Ohio's approved calculations. The discrepancies are likely due to differences in how the graduation rates are calculated. Ohio Department of Education officials yesterday disputed the research and its conclusions.
"We stand behind our calculation method," said Karla Carruthers, spokesman for the Ohio Depart-ment of Education. "Our formula is consistent with National Center for Educational Statistics recommendations for calculating graduation rates that most states use."
Oh, yeah, the government is never wrong.
She said Education Week's methods don't account for student mobility. "For example, if a student leaves a district and transfers to another public school or to a parochial school and goes onto graduate, our formula accounts for that," Ms. Carruthers said.
What? That doesn't make sense to me. Is there a grade limit? In other words, if a family moves to the burbs when a child is in second grade, and that child eventually graduates high school from another school, does TPS count that child? Or does TPS only account students who transfer during their senior year?
Toledo Public Schools Superintendent John Foley said Education Week uses a "very simplistic calculation whereas the state allows for movement, and that is in keeping with the mobility rates" of an urban district like Toledo Public. "When a student starts as a freshman and doesn't finish four years later, you can count him as a dropout, but that doesn't mean he didn't graduate from somewhere else," Mr. Foley said.
Christopher Swanson, one of the report's authors, said Ohio is among 32 states that use a method called the "Leaver rate" to calculate graduation rates. That method leads many states to report "inflated" data, said Mr. Swanson, who is director of the research center at Editorial Projects in Education, the Bethesda, Md.-based nonprofit organization that publishes Education Week.
The report's authors acknowledged yesterday in a conference call with reporters that the transfer of students out of an urban school system in favor of charter schools could lower the graduation rate under their method.
Note what the Columbus Dispatch noticed about Toledo:
"Other Ohio urban school districts had similar differences in the graduation rates. The state put Cleveland's graduation rate at 50 percent; the report put it at 34 percent.
The discrepancy is worst in Toledo. There, just 37 percent of students earned a diploma, according to the report. But the state says the graduation rate is more than double that --77 percent."
I will post what my investigations have found in a few days or so.