Wednesday, April 23, 2008

DCPS dropout "factories"

Post Metro reporter Marc Fisher has a depressing piece up about a new study that studies high school dropout rates. Interestingly, 15% of the schools nationwide account for nearly 50% of the students who fail earn a high school diploma. These schools have been dubbed "dropout factories" and the District has a depressingly high number of them.
The District of Columbia's public schools, it will shock no one to learn, fare poorly by this measure. A depressing three of the 12 high schools the study measured in the District fall into the lowest possible category--schools in which the number of seniors is 60 percent or fewer than the number of freshmen four years earlier. This, according to a Johns Hopkins University study on which the report card is based, is a powerful indicator that these schools will have painfully bad graduation rates. (By comparison, nationwide, about 70 percent of students graduate from high school; for black and Hispanic students, that drops to about 50 percent.)

Be slightly wary of the D.C. numbers because so many kids in inner-city schools move around so often that enrollment figures aren't to be trusted. But the bottom line is nonetheless clear: The schools in question (in Washington, that's Ballou, Woodson and Bell Multicultural high schools) are simply not retaining enough students to even have a shot at graduating an acceptable portion of their kids. And several other D.C. schools are just barely above that very low minimum number.

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