Congratulations Georgia… We’re Not Last!!!!!!

November 27, 2012 10:38 am

by Ed · 8 comments

The beneficent overlords at the Department of Education (the one in D.C., not  the one in Downtown Atlanta) released statistics on Tuesday that found one third of all Georgia high school students did not graduate on time.
Celebrate!
So what’s the good news in that? Well we were beat by Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina, who all had substantially better graduation rates than our fair state leaving us not last… but 48th in the country. Eat our dust New Mexico and Nevada! (And D.C. and the Bureau of Indian Education).

The reason we’re doing so poorly (again), according to The AJC:

What hurts Georgia’s ranking is its acute failure to graduate students with disabilities and students with limited English. Only three out of 10 students in those two categories graduates, putting us well behind most of the nation.

I suppose this really shouldn’t be news as we’ve always been a perennial contender for the worst-performing academic state in the country but I’d say it is close to a crisis point, if we’re not already there. What has caused Georgia to languish at the bottom, rarely moving out of the bottom five in any category, for over a decade? If there is a sign of continual across-the-board utter failure I’d say that’s it. And I’m not sure there’s a silver bullet either.

One thing that stuck out to me with the news is that the DoE is using new standards to calculate four-year graduation rates. Apparently in the past, states used a “hodgepodge” of different ways to calculate four-year graduation rates, which prompted the question: am I missing something? Like, either you complete high school and earn a diploma/equivalence four years after you start HS or you don’t. Right?

Speaking of low marks and Georgia… Lake Lanier is at its lowest point since the 2007-09 drought.

greencracker November 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

+1 for graphic
+1 Ed’s incisive analysis
-1 for AP stylebook allowing students “with” disabilities*.

*Proper people first language is students “who have” disabilities.

Mike Stucka November 27, 2012 at 1:50 pm

“You” graduate high school or “you” don’t. But school systems have traditionally done a craptastic job of tracking students (“Oh, Bob might’ve moved away, or dropped out. Let’s mark him as moved.”) that makes comprehensive statistics a challenge. Then there’s other cases that shouldn’t count against school systems, like a student dying. Mind your data definitions.

I think this is the official state way of calculating, from here:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/Curriculum-Instruction-and-Assessment/Accountability/Pages/default.aspx

# of 2011 Cohort Members Who Graduated with a Regular Education Diploma in 2011 and 2012 (diploma type = College Prep, Vocational, Dual)

divided by

# of First Time 9th Graders in 2008 + Transfers In – Transfers Out, Emigrate or Die in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011

Mike Stucka November 27, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Oh, and an often-unspoken part of No Child Left Behind and other data tracking efforts is the creation of sometimes perverse incentives that depend on what’s tracked. For example, NCLB didn’t track graduation rates, so they couldn’t be held against a school system. But it did track standardized test scores. Johnny’s thinking about dropping out of school, and the tests are coming up? Maybe you don’t need to fight so hard to keep him in school.

To their credit, some schools made a significant effort to do the right thing.

Dr. Monica Henson November 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Hmm, where did you get your information about NCLB and graduation rates? The 2nd indicator for high schools to make Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB, pre-Arne Duncan waivers, has always been graduation rate. In fact, this requirement did shine a very bright light on the dropout problem in this country.

Mike Stucka November 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

That is a -darn- good question. I swear it was from an AJC story circa 2004 or thereabouts, but I can’t find it. You are absolutely correct. This is almost certainly faulty recollection on my part.

And the text of the original law itself points out quite a few citations of graduation rate as a standard:
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ110/content-detail.html

I thank you for your attention, and correction, and apologize.

Bridget November 27, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Most. Obnoxious. Graphic. Ever.

SallyForth November 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Bridg, you’re just jealous. Ed’s big sparkly fireworks graphic is great!

John Vestal November 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

Well, crap. Every time I hear the first lines of the “Big Bang Theory” (the sitcom, not the lie from the pit of hell….), I always think of Mississippi. So much for that….

The whole universe was in a hot, dense state….”

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