Fewer stu­dents get­ting a diploma

GRAD­U­A­TIONS SLIDE IN PUB­LIC SCHOOLS Data shows ex­ces­sive ab­sences at char­ters

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY PERRY STEIN

The grad­u­a­tion rate for the Dis­trict’s tra­di­tional pub­lic high schools slid 4.6 per­cent­age points in 2018 — mark­ing the first de­cline since at least 2011 and com­ing amid height­ened scru­tiny over whether Dis­trict stu­dents prop­erly earn their diplo­mas.

The rate for the tra­di­tional high schools fell to 68.6 per­cent, al­though that was not as steep as feared: A city­wide in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that 1 in 3 grad­u­ates in 2017 re­ceived their diplo­mas de­spite miss­ing too many classes or im­prop­erly tak­ing makeup classes.

The Of­fice of the State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Ed­u­ca­tion re­leased the grad­u­a­tion data Fri­day for the tra­di­tional pub­lic and char­ter school sec­tors.

The grad­u­a­tion rate for the Dis­trict’s char­ter schools dropped one per­cent­age point, to 72.4 per­cent.

The Jan­uary in­ves­ti­ga­tion also con­cluded that char­ter schools grad­u­ated stu­dents who missed too many classes, al­though not at such high lev­els as the tra­di­tional pub­lic school sys­tem.

D.C. Pub­lic Schools of­fi­cials said that af­ter re­ceiv­ing the re­sults of the city­wide in­ves­tiga-

tion, they pro­vided ad­di­tional re­sources to strug­gling stu­dents to help them grad­u­ate, in­clud­ing as­sign­ing ad­di­tional staff to lo­cate and en­cour­age stu­dents who were at risk of drop­ping out.

Sarah Navarro, the school sys­tem’s deputy chief of grad­u­a­tion ex­cel­lence, said that be­fore the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, staff and stu­dents were un­clear about re­quire­ments for at­ten­dance and grad­u­a­tion. She said school lead­ers have worked to en­sure that teach­ers and stu­dents un­der­stand that stu­dents who ac­crue more than 30 ab­sences in a class over the course of a year will au­to­mat­i­cally fail.

“It speaks to our stu­dents’ abil­ity to meet rig­or­ous ex­pec­ta­tions,” Navarro said.

In­terim schools chan­cel­lor Amanda Alexan­der said she is con­fi­dent that each stu­dent who re­ceived their diploma earned it.

“I am proud of the 2,273 grad­u­ates who met our stan­dards of ex­cel­lence, and thank­ful to the school lead­ers, staff, stu­dents, and fam­i­lies for their hard work and com­mit­ment last school year and this sum­mer,” Alexan­der said in a state­ment.

D.C. Pub­lic Schools re­leased in­cre­men­tal grad­u­a­tion data ear­lier this year to show how many se­niors were on track to gradu- ate. In April, fewer than half the se­niors in the Class of 2018 were on track to grad­u­ate. In June, 59 per­cent of se­niors walked across the stage and re­ceived their diplo­mas on time.

The in­crease in the grad­u­a­tion rate since June re­flects, in part, stu­dents who earned their diplo­mas in the sum­mer. City em­ploy­ees also worked to track down se­niors who were no longer en­rolled in school to de­ter­mine whether they had dropped out or had en­rolled in an­other school sys­tem or char­ter school. If stu­dents had en­rolled else­where, their ab­sence was not re­flected in the grad­u­a­tion rate.

Scott Pear­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the D.C. Pub­lic Char­ter School Board, said the char­ter sec­tor needs to im­prove its high schools. He also said the pub­lic should pay at­ten­tion to the fiveyear grad­u­a­tion rate, which tracks the per­cent­age of stu­dents who earn their diplo­mas in five years. The sec­tor’s five-year grad­u­a­tion rate was 81 per­cent. The five-year rate for the tra­di­tional pub­lic school sys­tem was 76 per­cent.

“We’re not sat­is­fied with where we are now,” Pear­son wrote in an email. “We want more top­per­form­ing high schools be­cause we know stu­dents do bet­ter in those schools.”

City of­fi­cials also re­leased school-by-school grad­u­a­tion rates. The rates at most neigh­bor­hood high schools in the tra­di­tional sys­tem dropped from 2017. At Ana­cos­tia High School, it fell from 59 per­cent to 50 per­cent. At Bal­lou High School, the four-year rate de­creased from 64 per­cent to 55 per­cent. And Coolidge High School’s rate tum­bled from 70 per­cent to 56 per­cent. But Eastern and Dun­bar high schools saw in­creases. Eastern rose from 79 per­cent to 82 per­cent, while Dun­bar in­creased from 76 per­cent to 86 per­cent.

In the char­ter sec­tor, IDEA Pub­lic Char­ter School and Na­tional Col­le­giate Prepara­tory posted some of the low­est grad­u­a­tion rates, at about 58 per­cent. Grad­u­a­tion rates at Friend­ship Pub­lic Char­ter School and SEED Pub­lic Char­ter School hov­ered at 95 per­cent — some of the high­est rates in the city.

“It speaks to our stu­dents’ abil­ity to meet rig­or­ous ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.