U.S. grad rate rises. Fewer dropout factories in Georgia.

A new study says Georgia has fewer high school dropout factories and more grads.

A new study says Georgia has fewer high school dropout factories and more grads.

A bit of good news to close the month of November: The U.S. high school graduation rate is on an upswing and Georgia played a significant role.

According to a report by America’s Promise Alliance, an education advocacy group founded by General Colin Powell and his wife Alma Powell, the U.S. graduation rate increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008.

The report says that the “dropout factory” high schools — high schools where no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year — are decreasing.

The number of  these factories, which produce half of the nation’s dropouts each year, fell from from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008. And Georgia is one of the states slowing its dropout assembly line.

The report states: Most of the decline in dropout factory schools occurred in the South, with 216 of the net decline of 261 schools (about 83 percent of the total decline) found across 9 Southern states, led by Texas and Georgia with 77 and 36 fewer dropout factory schools, respectively. The West, largely driven by increases in Nevada and California, saw a net gain of 21 dropout factory schools. Nationwide, 400,000 fewer students (a 15 percent decline) were enrolled in dropout factories in 2008 compared to 2002, with 7 states accounting for 71 percent of the decline (Texas, New York, California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Ohio).

The report notes that Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia had balanced improvement across locales, potential signaling the significance of statewide efforts. Tennessee and Texas experienced a decrease in dropout factories in suburbs, towns, cities, and rural areas. Alabama and Georgia experienced progress in three out of four such locales.

In addition, the report found:

  • More than half of all states – 29 in total – increased their statewide graduation rate from 2002 to 2008.
  • The state of Tennessee and New York City led the nation by boosting graduation rates 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
  • Most of the decline in dropout factories – 216 of the 261 – occurred in the South

–By Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog

37 comments Add your comment

Mike the Original

November 30th, 2010
8:32 am

Too bad that we raised it in several cases by gaming the system and just transferring dropouts and Certificate of Performance earners to alternative schools in order to increase graduation rates. In our case we do it even up to a couple of days before graduation.

Smoke and mirrors. All about the numbers and looking good, not the kids.

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Shar

November 30th, 2010
8:57 am

The state changed the way the graduation rate is calculated. No real gains by real students have been made. Another sham improvement touted to burnish someone’s reputation or line someone’s pockets.

Chrome Gouda

November 30th, 2010
9:09 am

I recall my first four years of teaching, at Paulding County High School, where the graduation rate for our school was in the neighborhood of 33-35%. This was 10-15 years ago. I would be interested in knowing if that has improved.

mystery poster

November 30th, 2010
9:12 am

You know what they say:
“When all else fails, manipulate the data.”

Maureen Downey

November 30th, 2010
9:13 am

@Chrome, While I don’t believe the Georgia grad rate is as high as the state says, I have no doubt that we are graduating more students.
Maureen

Skeptic

November 30th, 2010
9:33 am

And is there cheating on the graduation test also? Wouldn’t surprise anyone.

Maureen Downey

November 30th, 2010
9:44 am

@Skeptic, Not sure the motivation is there on the part of teachers/administrators to cheat on the Georgia High School Graduation Test as there is to cheat on the CRCT. Students may be motivated to cheat, although most kids pass the test with ease.
Maureen

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sloboffthestreet

November 30th, 2010
10:13 am

Let’s just do like the CRCT and the wonderful NCLB does. If you score an “F” on the graduation test you have “MET THE STANDARD.” Print a diploma with their name on it signed by the wonderful powers to be and send them out in the world. At least they will have something to hang on the refrigerarator to show their Momma’s. WWWWOOOO HHHHHOOOOO!! GO GEORGIA!!!! Kinda makes ya proud!!

lulu

November 30th, 2010
10:17 am

Who is to say these schools aren’t just transferring these students so that they can drop out from non-traditional schools instead? Since there’s no real way of tracking individual students from school to school, I’d be willing to bet that plays a part in the numbers.

I’d love to believe it, but considering what I know about statistics and the Georgia DOE, I can’t help but remain skeptical.

South Georgia Teacher

November 30th, 2010
10:18 am

Another strategy is to keep unsuccessful students in middle school til they drop out. It’s easy to be 16 in the 8th grade when one has been retained two or three times. If a student never enters high school, the student never counts as a drop out.

I am more interested in the percentage of 19 or 20-year-olds in Georgia who hold high school diplomas. That way we also count the graduates who didn’t finish on time, but still actually graduated.

Really amazed

November 30th, 2010
10:21 am

More graduating because the teachers and administrators don’t want them back. No child left behind remember!!!! They have to let them graduate!!! Wake up!

Dr. Tim

November 30th, 2010
10:24 am

What is the benefit of keeping an unmotivated, uncaring, and ill behaved seventeen year old in school?

Really amazed

November 30th, 2010
10:48 am

@Dr.Tim, DITTO! This is one of the main reasons they are being passed. Didn’t Maureen show this article or something close to this article about a month ago? The gov’t needs to realize that they need to bring back the basics to some of these kids that don’t want to go on to college. We still need plumbers, electricans, ect. trades. We use to have a work study program. What ever happen to that one.

grifter

November 30th, 2010
11:04 am

The actual Georgia grad rate is about 56%; Georgia hides its enormous dropout rate with “transfers” to other schools who never show back up. Is increasing this pathetic rate by one or two points supposed to be “success” Maureen ??!!!

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
11:09 am

Low expectations + manipulation of data = higher grad rates.

PRESTO!

V for Vendetta

November 30th, 2010
11:10 am

Maureen,

Just saw on my email’s homepage an article about a student gunman in Wisconsin. Those always make for lively blog discussions. :-)

An American Patriot

November 30th, 2010
11:11 am

Well Maureen, of course we’re graduating more students…..there’s more of ‘em :) D’oh. Statistics are made to be manipulated and that’s what’s happened here…..just some more buffalo chips to try to make the people happy.

Maureen Downey

November 30th, 2010
11:13 am

@Am American, No, our grad rate has increased. I think that is clear even if the national studies that put our rate at a far lower level than the state does. The rate is still increasing.
Maureen

What's best for kids?

November 30th, 2010
11:18 am

Maureen,
The rate is increasing because the expectations for rigor are dropping.

exaps teacher

November 30th, 2010
11:41 am

Maureen:
you say “Not sure the motivation is there on the part of teachers/administrators to cheat on the Georgia High School Graduation Test as there is to cheat on the CRCT.”
I think you are so far out of touch with what happens in inner city school system like APS with crooked superintendent and crooked administrators. The has always been rampant cheating in High School Graduation tests. The motivation is AYP status. I know this first hand and it almost ruined my career when I spoke up against cheating in High School Graduation Tests at APS.
As far as the state’s graduation numbers going up, please take that with with a pint of salt. The state is under tremendous pressure to boost graduation rate in georgia so that business can invest more in georgia. The strategy they are taking is lowering the bar and using creative counting and statistics.

Lisa B.

November 30th, 2010
12:14 pm

I wonder how the new math section of the upcoming high school graduation test will impact the graduation rate.

Sunraynews | Top US news

November 30th, 2010
2:17 pm

[...] "dropout factory" high schools in the United States has declined since 2002, …US grad rate rises. Fewer dropout factories in Georgia.Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Report finds decline in number of US"dropout [...]

Kwanza

November 30th, 2010
3:41 pm

Dear commentators on GetSchooled,

While the progress is noteworthy, it goes without saying that we still have a ways to go. Instead of focusing so much on the graduation rate, why don’t we just focus on making sure our children are competitive and receive a world-class education. Let’s also change our cultural paradigm of education while we’re at it. Then I’m sure the increase in grad rates will happen naturally. And since I’m raising the issue, I thought I’d offer a solution.

I am working on a project under a nonprofit to give supplement education to select students in APS. Several of these students do not qualify for SES, and in some cases, SES under NCLB is not provided. Also, these students have demonstrated potential but need that extra push to be truly competitive (no smoke and mirrors kind of competitive…can get into a top school without feeling compelled to report race for advantage reasons…can score in the 90th percentile on the SAT competitive..you get my point). So, I have arranged something with a local nonprofit, Essential2Life, and Atlanta Tutors to help offer supplemental education to these students, but with the financial support of the community. Check it out at my blog http://closethegapculture.blogspot.com/. I challenge you to buy an hour of SAT tutorial for an inner city youth. Tutoring is $50/hour. You can buy an hour at https://www.atlantatutors.net/payments.php. Just make sure to write “Essential2Life” In the “Student Name” field.

I want to ensure that these students, whom I have interviewed and hand picked because I believe the have true potential and promise (not because of their grades necessarily) will be able to attend the school of their choice as well as qualify for sponsorship. They are willing to do the work and I am excited to help them! I am ready to help whip these students into shape. Please help me!

Thanks

Kwanza Fisher

oldtimer

November 30th, 2010
5:27 pm

South GA…..No one I knew kept kids in middle school for even one extra year. Middle Schools just pass them on.

Ole Guy

November 30th, 2010
5:50 pm

This is amazing. Once again, we seek accolades for achieving the already-expected. Rather than beating drums and blowing triumphant horns, I would just as soon mutter “ABOUT DAMN TIME…now that we have demonstrated the ability to locate our sixes with both hands, how bout we get to work”. Every time I see someone celebrating mediocrity and delayed achievement of minimum expectations, I just wanna puke.

Let’s just knock off the celebration of achieving results of lowest common denominator, and continue aiming for the real, meaningful goals. Or is that too much to expect?

JUST WAIT

November 30th, 2010
6:00 pm

Lisa B brings up an importan point. The new math graduation test (short – lived that it may be) is expected to be an obstacle for many….
The class of 2012(the first class under new math curriculum and new grad requirements) has not been able to catch a break. Their numbers are dwindling. MANY have been held back, and are not on track for on-time graduation. All of this is for all intents and purposes being ignored, and 18 months from now when high schools aren’t making AYP because of inadequate greaduation rates, everyone will say “HUH?”

ScienceTeacher671

November 30th, 2010
8:37 pm

In our system, they don’t stay in middle school past age 15-1/2, no matter how low the CRCT scores and grades. They come to high school, and we have to fill out pages and pages of SST and RTI documentation to show why students who are reading and doing math on a 3rd grade level aren’t passing 9th grade even with “interventions.”

Or maybe we are required to provide enough interventions that the students “pass” their classes, even if they can’t pass the EOCTs or the GHSGTs. And when they fail the GHSGT for the 5th time, they transfer to the alternative school — not our problem any more.

Really amazed

December 1st, 2010
10:55 am

@Lisa B & Just Wait, no worries! If the results for the new math testing is that bad. They will just throw them out and disregard them like they did with the Social Studies and Science portion of the crct a few years ago.

Lisa B.

December 1st, 2010
1:48 pm

We have some pretty old students at our middle school. We don’t send them to high school if they don’t pass the math or reading CRCT, or if they fail two or more subjects. Once they are 16, they go into a separate class to isolate them from the rest of the students. We’ve had a few students chose to stay in middle school til ages 17 and even 18. Sad really. The teachers knock themselves out to teach the students, but can’t open up their heads and pour in the knowledge. The students I refer to are no special ed kids. In fact, some have been highly intelligent. Enforcing our local retention policy has made a big difference in our test scores. Once the message got out into the community that the students must meet the promotion guidelines to get to high school, students and parents became far more serious about school, and most students now pass.

Lisa B.

December 1st, 2010
1:51 pm

Amazed, I sure HOPE the math portion of the GHSGT gets thrown out if they are as bad as we fear. My poor 11th grade son, Class of 2012, is terrified of that test. He’s always been a great test-taker, but we are all nervous about the new test.

HS Math Teacher

December 1st, 2010
3:03 pm

Dang, Science Teacher, I wish our Middle School would hold ANY student back. The flood gates are open every year. Try educating kids who are at the right age for 9th grade, but are on a 5th grade math and reading level.

Ole Guy

December 1st, 2010
3:43 pm

Lisa, your observations harken, once again, to an ole demand I have held for…well, forever. If the kid cannot/will not benefit from a tax-funded education within a reasonable period of time, said kid should be removed from said tax-funded program. It is nothing short of absolutely rediculous that kids should simply be “recycled”, over and over, AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE. Being held back A grade (that’s “A” as in ONE grade) might be acceptable, but the situation you depict is absolutely deplorable. I never would have thought such a situation would be tolerated within an educational system which, once upon a time, actually prepared generations for life. Given this scenario, I am quite sure we, as a Country, are headed back into the dark world of national mediocrity. Thanks for the enlightenment.

ScienceTeacher671

December 1st, 2010
7:45 pm

HS Math Teacher, we get plenty of that kind…I was responding to South GA Teacher’s post about keeping them in middle school until they drop out — in our district, by the time they are old enough to drop out, they’ve already been sent on.

As a matter of fact, I think that since the state decided that working at a 4th grade level was “proficient” for an 8th grader, we’ve been seeing even more below-grade-level students.

LIsaB, several years ago our district discussed the idea of a remedial school, on its own campus, for students who were too old for middle school but didn’t have the skills for high school. So far nothing has come of the idea.

JUST WAIT

December 1st, 2010
8:47 pm

Someone should really look more closely at this whole math debacle. Just as the state has announced that they are doing away with the GHSGTs, they are rolling out a new math grad test for the unfortunate few (class of 2012, 2013 and 2014) who have been the guinea pigs under this mess of a math program. The expectation is that MANY will fail this test, and truthfully I’d be willing to bet that most of us here(mathmeticians aside) would not be able to pass a math test based on this new fouled-up curriculum. The state needs to put the breaks on this thing and now. The class of 2012 has gotten the short end of the stick, and their numbers are dwindling.

NotImpressed

December 2nd, 2010
11:07 am

The Georgia dropout rate has dropped because the standards have been lowered. In Gwinnett teachers are almost dared to fail a student no matter how much the failing grade is deserved. Kids graduate from high school and can barely read and write. We have even have counselors filling out college applications for students because the students cannot fill them out themselves. Again, this is in the almighty Gwinnett County.