Is Phoenix Union among top for graduation rates?

The Arizona Republic - - Az Politics - AL­LIE BICE

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.

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