Is Phoenix Union among top for graduation rates?
THE MEDIA: Print. WHO SAID IT: Yes for Phoenix Union. THE COMMENT: “Phoenix Union students have among the highest graduation rates of any urban high school district in the country, and we need to keep it that way.” THE FORUM: Campaign flier.
WHAT WE’RE LOOKING AT: If students in the Phoenix Union High School District have “among the highest” graduation rates of any urban high school district across the nation.
ANALYSIS: Campaign fliers mailed to Phoenix residents by Yes for Phoenix Union, a campaign committee supporting bond and override measures on the ballot that will financially aid the Phoenix Union High School District, state the district graduation rate is one of the highest among urban high school districts in the United States.
The fliers use that piece of information to encourage voters to vote “yes” on the ballot measures, which will help to “recruit and retain quality teachers, provide students with career and academic support services, and Invest in classroom technology,” according to the Yes for Phoenix Union website.
The district had an 81 percent graduation rate in the 2015-16 academic year, but it has since gone up to 84 percent, according to the district.
The rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate in four years with a high school diploma by the number of students who form the “adjusted cohort” for the graduating class, according to the Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind High School Graduation Rate Non-Regulatory Guidance.
This adjusted cohort starts with the number of students in the freshman class, coupled with transfer students and those who dropped out in the following years.
Stanford Prescott, a volunteer with the Yes for Phoenix Union initiative and a district governing board member, sent AZ Fact Check figures provided by the Phoenix Union High School District that showed the district fourth among 18 other large school districts when looking at graduation rates.
Phoenix Union had an 81 percent graduation rate in the 2015-16 academic school year, making it fourth on the list.
The list compares Phoenix Union with urban districts like the Los Angeles Unified School District, New York Public Schools, Miami Dade County Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools, to name a few.
The district’s graduation rate of 84 percent for the 2016-17 school year would put it in a tie for third with San Antonio’s graduation rate listed on the chart.
The district also pointed to an upcoming report by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy that showed the district’s graduation rate ranks high against select districts with similar demographics.
The Morrison Institute report compared Phoenix Union High School District with six other “comparable” school districts, like Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Kansas City, Missouri; Harlandale Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas; and Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The upcoming Morrison Institute report compared Phoenix Union with other districts that administer a district-wide ACT.
Of the seven districts in the report, Phoenix ranked third.
BOTTOM LINE: The Phoenix Union High School District has an above-average graduation rate for the state of Arizona and in two analyses, the district does have “among the highest graduation rates” when compared with other big-city districts.
THE FINDING: 4 stars. True. SOURCES: Interviews with Ian Danley, district governing board president, and Stanford Prescott, Phoenix Union High School district governing board member. Correspondence with the National Center for Educational Statistics and the Education Week Research Center. NCES’ Annual Report: Selected Statistics on Enrollment, Teachers, Dropouts, and Graduates in Public School Districts enrolling more than 15,000 students. An upcoming Morrison Institute report, “The Power of Urban Education Grant report Phoenix Union High School District,” October 2017.