DCPS graduation rate: Some good news

April 6, 2012

There are a couple of important points that didn’t make it into today’s story on high school graduation rates.

While DCPS saw a 27 percent drop (73 percent to 53 percent) when it applied the new formula required by the federal government to determine the 2011 rate, it’s worth noting that four-year completion improved from 73 percent to 80 percent under the old calculus.

It suggests that despite the obvious challenges, there is some movement in the right direction.

The story also neglected to mention the alternative and non-traditional DCPS schools and programs for students who aren’t on the traditional four-year track. Under the new, more rigorous “adjusted cohort formula,” students who are still enrolled but have not finished in four years are counted as non-graduates.

Washington Metropolitan High School, formerly the Youth Engagement Academy, will graduate its first senior class this year. Luke C. Moore, a high school for students ages 17 to 20 who have not done well in traditional settings, will also have graduates. DCPS also serves hundreds of adults in Roosevelt and Ballou STAY programs.

Officials expect that the 2012 graduation rates released next year will include separate calculations for cohorts of students who take five or six years to finish. This will also provide a more meaningful way to look at schools who serve large numbers of English language learners or those with special needs.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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