Senate Ed committee chair: We have overstated grad rate

At the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education media symposium, we just had a presentation on how Georgia calculates its high school graduation rate and what will happen when Georgia shifts from the leaver method to a national cohort methodology that is considered more accurate.

Georgia now claims a high school graduation rate at around 80 percent, although other counts put it much lower.

Among the folks in attendance at the gathering is DeKalb state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody. Millar is chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

“Do I believe we have overstated the graduation rate in this state? Absolutely,” he said. “But I do think the important thing is that we made progress in this state.”

However, when the new methodology is used, Millar says, “There is no doubt in my mind that the rate is going down. I hope it is 10 points less. If it goes down beyond 10 points, many of us will be very, very disappointed.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

70 comments Add your comment

Ernest

January 14th, 2011
12:52 pm

Senator Millar, it will be interesting to see what the revised rate will be. Hopefully this will have legislators reconsider the wisdom of eliminating multiple diploma options. It would also be interesting to see what other states do.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
12:54 pm

“Do I believe we have overstated the graduation rate in this state? Absolutely,” he said. “But I do think the important thing is that we made progress in this state.”

However, when the new methodology is used, Millar says, “There is no doubt in my mind that the rate is going down. I hope it is 10 points less. If it goes down beyond 10 points, many of us will be very, very disappointed.”

As I’ve said…CHEATING by any means to RAISE the scores.

…the important thing is that we made progress in this state.”

I guess you could say…you can still learn even though you are CHEATING.

And Beverly Hall can just give the money back…

THESE ARE EDUCATED LEADERS that the public continues to believe. They do not have our best interests in mind.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
1:01 pm

These inflated graduation rates are the same ATTITUDES that handled the BANKING issues. INFLATE THE NUMBERS…Give a false impression for a short period of time to HOOD-WINK the gullible.

Realist

January 14th, 2011
1:06 pm

Government manipulates virtually every statistic to cover up the fact that it fails at everything it does. Just look at the inflation and unemployment numbers. They leave out food, fuel, housing and other items supposedly because their wild fluctuations impact the statistics. No kidding. I know I don’t get to leave food, fuel or housing out of my budget, neither should they. As well, using the statistical methods from the first Depression era unemployment is around 24% or higher. This new accounting dates back to the Clinton era where he too needed ot cover up the bad numbers to try and look better.

Whenever you see a government statistic that something they are doing is going right, don’t believe it. Qui bono? Who benefits. If people actually were to confront just how bad a job government does there might actually be a turnaround in how we get things done, and that of course scares a lot of folks and certainly threatens their power.

Expect no consequences for the lies (sorry, misleading statistics).

Mike the Original

January 14th, 2011
1:09 pm

Did he happen to mention all the cheating being done to artificially inflate graduation rates by transferring Certificate of Performance earners to alternative schools and career academies?

Didn’t think so.

Top School

January 14th, 2011
1:42 pm

These are the leaders that have no intentions of using the PUBLIC SCHOOL HOUSE…PUBLIC HOUSING…OR PUBLIC HEALTH CARE…

They sit in their political positions milking the PUBLIC MONEY…and feeding us political statistics to hide their greedy intentions to CREATE illusions of grandeur while they hold office.

The STATE OF THE UNION is BAD…and until the LEADERS honestly face the issues …INCLUDING RACIAL TENSIONS…the situation continues to spiral into a UNITED STATES CATASTROPHE.

Honesty and Integrity are not ethical VALUES the PUBLIC DEMANDS from their POLITICAL LEADERS.

This is the very reason GOVERNOR DEAL is in office…A reflection of our SOCIETY.
STEAL, CHEAT, INFLATE, MISREPRESENT, FALSIFY, FAKE your way to the TOP.
AND don’t forget the donations and getting the REAL DEAL while nobody’s looking.

Corruption from Top to Bottom:
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
3:18 pm

“They sit in their political positions milking the PUBLIC MONEY…and feeding us political statistics to hide their greedy intentions to CREATE illusions of grandeur while they hold office.”

Pulling a page from Obamas play book eh!

Dr NO

January 14th, 2011
3:19 pm

“This is the very reason GOVERNOR DEAL is in office…A reflection of our SOCIETY.
STEAL, CHEAT, INFLATE, MISREPRESENT, FALSIFY, FAKE your way to the TOP.”

Kinda like the APS board, ATL city govt, Kasim Reed, Dekalb County, S Fulton County…is that what you mean?

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
3:23 pm

“Senate Ed committee chair: We have overstated grad rate”

Student drop-out rates should not even be considered in the school accountability, because the students and parents have the choice to drop out. If people have public health clinics freely available them, and they choose to not go, and get sick, is that the clinics fault? Do we free the people of the responsibility to their own health and blame it on the government? Then again, I may be preaching to the entitlement generation.

Mike the Original says: “Did he happen to mention all the cheating being done to artificially inflate graduation rates by transferring Certificate of Performance earners to alternative schools and career academies?”

We would not even have this problem if the schools are free of the students who choose to drop out.

Realist says: “Expect no consequences for the lies (sorry, misleading statistics).”

Well why would the state want to doctor a lower grad rate? Hmm…Could it be that they want the public to throw more money at public education? Because throwing more money at public education has not worked before, so the politicians only tactic is to scare the public into thinking it might work this time.

Tony

January 14th, 2011
4:13 pm

By using the current formula to determine graduation rates, it is true that the count is higher than it would be using the cohort method. It is important to note that we have used the same formulat since 2003, so the improvement in the graduation rate that we have seen is real improvement. I no the nay-sayers believe it is all manipulation and lies, but there are still many honest people working in our public schools that will have no part of that.

One really BIG problem with the cohort method of calculating the graduation rate is that it is purely an efficiency rating. True, there should be some improvement in our efficiency at getting kids graduated on time. Unfortunately, this is not a matter that schools alone can change. It will take communities working together.

Another huge issue with increasing the graduation rate is the same as one that is encoutered in the industrial world. If an industry wants to improve the amount of metal it extracts from ore, it must invest more money. What happens next is what’s hard. To get even more of the metal from the ore, the cost goes up exponentially. This is a reality that state budget makers refuse to acknowledge.

In short, there are flaws with all of the calculations for graduation rate because they are based on unrealistic ideals. Perhaps someone in a position of leadership will realize this one day and bring some sanity to our world.

Tony

January 14th, 2011
4:15 pm

Realist – government is not the only entity that manipulates statistics. I think the private sector does a fantastic job of manipulation.

Left out of the article

January 14th, 2011
4:38 pm

Among the folks in attendance at the gathering is DeKalb state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody. Millar is chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee.

Ms. Downey failed to mention Sen.Millar was just elected and just came into this position and this is his impression of what he found!

Curious One

January 14th, 2011
5:13 pm

I am under the impression that Senior Millar is a long term sitter under the Gold Dome – this is not a surprise to anyone who even pays attention – High schools have no idea, nor do they want to know, about who really drops out or transfers – but they could guess and be 98% correct – look at the students record of performance. Just more distortions that really geared up under Schrenko, then the lady who really knows less than most 5th graders.

sr

January 14th, 2011
5:16 pm

As it stands, students who take more than 4 years and a summer to graduate are counted as drop-outs. Just because someone takes longer does not mean that they dropped out. It’s not a matter of what percent of students who are enrolled finish; the current formula doesn’t account for students who move away, special education students, who decide they want (and go get) a GED, and other factors. I think a simpler, less manipulated formula would be more accurate reflection of the truth.

Also, the elimination of the “vocational” diploma will undoubtedly raise the drop-out rate. There is honor in any work done well. With the state’s idea that everyone ought to go to college, good young people who want to do something else are left to feel as though they’re failures.

Math Maestro

January 14th, 2011
6:01 pm

Tony says: “If an industry wants to improve the amount of metal it extracts from ore, it must invest more money. What happens next is what’s hard. To get even more of the metal from the ore, the cost goes up exponentially.”

Aside from teaching in the classroom for 6-years, I also worked in the tech industry for 10-years. And what you say about industry does not make sense. For a company to be profitable, they will not invest in anything where the cost will go up exponentially and the return-on-investment will not. You can throw exponentially more money at the schools that might raise grad rates linearly. Not a good investment from the industry point of view.

Curious One says: “I am under the impression that Senior Millar is a long term sitter under the Gold Dome”

If Sen Miller plans to be a career politician, then of course he wants us to throw more tax dollars at this ineffective system. That is what career politicians do, to manage ineffectively our tax dollars. But then again, you already know how I feel about grad rates from my comments above.

sr says: “As it stands, students who take more than 4 years and a summer to graduate are counted as drop-outs.”

Then why even count grad rates? It should be the parents accountability and not the schools.

sr says: “Also, the elimination of the “vocational” diploma will undoubtedly raise the drop-out rate. There is honor in any work done well. With the state’s idea that everyone ought to go to college, good young people who want to do something else are left to feel as though they’re failures.”

Absolutely. What makes the government decide what is academic success for the individual?

Top School

January 14th, 2011
6:02 pm

@ Dr. No…yes that is exactly what I mean…Black, White, Republican, Democrat…

No ETHICS from Top to Bottom…
This is not the mentality of true SUCCESS…THIS IS SOMEONE MANIPULATING success …“Do I believe we have overstated the graduation rate in this state? Absolutely,” he said. “But I do think the important thing is that we made progress in this state.”

Trying to make something that is rotten …smell good.
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/36/b1vFdKXudjM

Tony

January 14th, 2011
6:03 pm

sr – you are incorrect on the point about 4 years and a summer. Graduation rate is calculated again after summer school and those graduates ARE included for the final AYP determination.

pull funding on pre-k

January 14th, 2011
6:20 pm

After more than a billion dollars of HOPE money paid out to the Pre-K (government paid day care) where are the results? It was promised that the HOPE pre-k would better prepare kids for school, increase test scores and raise the graduation rate. What has it accomplished so far? –Well free day care and that’s it. Think about how cutting this, stop paying for remedial classes in college and cutting the incredible bonuses paid to Lottery employees would shore up funding for the brightest of our state!

Pius Paul

January 14th, 2011
6:23 pm

Tell you what folks, check all of the State colleges and universities who accept high school “graduates” from Georgia high schools with at least a 3.0 GPA to qualify for HOPE. Then take a look at how many of these kids are forced into remedial subjects for at least their first year of college to prepare them for collegiate level work. Think about the the TIME the kids have WASTED, and the additional bucks they are having to spend to acquire the background their parents (and other taxpayers) paid for while in public high schools. It is pretty pathetic folks, since many of these kids are getting student loans to pay for their lack of preparedness!

Maureen Downey

January 14th, 2011
6:24 pm

@Left out of article, Actually, Fran Millar has been in the General Assembly for 12 years as the House rep for Dunwoody. He chose to run for the open Senate seat and won, but he has been active in education for a long time in the Legislature. He has served on the House Education committee for many years and is considered one of the experts on education.
Maureen

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 14th, 2011
7:11 pm

Senator Millar was vice-chair of the House Education Committee in the last legislative session. I’ve seen him at enough GPEE events to appreciate that he has much more than a passing interest in the quality of public education in our state.

bigguy

January 14th, 2011
7:35 pm

Just do like they do in Dalton: send all kids unlikely to graduate to an alternative school that graduates no one. Then boast about a 90% grad rate.

high school teacher

January 14th, 2011
7:39 pm

Given that the entire notion of AYP was based on a lie, we shouldn’t be too surprised to see any overinflated graduation rates from any state. Remember “The Texas Miracle?”

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/01/06/60II/main591676.shtml

ScienceTeacher671

January 14th, 2011
7:58 pm

If they have to start calculating graduation rates based on the number of entering 9th graders who graduate in 4 years, perhaps they’ll finally have an incentive to stop socially promoting 8th graders who can’t read and do math past a 4th grade level.

More likely they’ll just dumb down the EOCTs still further so that even the illiterates can pass.

Edie

January 14th, 2011
8:58 pm

Cutting HOPE for remedial classes is Republican code for cutting minorities from the college rolls. We can’t break the poverty cycle unless we educate the poor and disadvantage.

sr

January 14th, 2011
9:03 pm

Tony: I believe it’s 4 years and a summer, as I said. If a student takes 5 years, she isn’t counted in the graduation rate. Is that right?

An American Patriot

January 14th, 2011
9:09 pm

Somebody please tell me……why are we using “formulas” to calculate the graduation rate? Aren’t we smart enough to have actuals? Oh, gosh, goodness sakes, I guess I answered my own question :) Using formulas, we’ll never even get close to an actual……we’d probably be shocked at what it actually is……dumb, dumb and dumber.

@Top School……I’m “actually” scaring myself……I find myself agreeing with you more and more….keep talking, maybe you’ll get somebody that counts to “actually” listen.

ScienceTeacher671

January 14th, 2011
9:14 pm

Does sending kids who can’t pass the GHSGT to the for-profit alternative school 3 weeks before graduation (pay $500 and get an out-of-state diploma) count as privatizing education?

sloboffthestreet

January 14th, 2011
9:15 pm

Both house and senate education chairs have no interest in establishing a proper education system in the state along with the stepford husbands and wives of the state board of education. When high school grad rates are the second indicator for making AYP for high schools they will continue to hand them out to students who were never taught to add, subtract, multiply and divide. When you speak to these gentlemen and explain what is happening in Georgia Public Schools their comments are, “I hope that’s not the case.” Let’s just give everyone a diploma and forget about education. The debate is over. The children lose. Teachers, administrators and lawmakers win.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 14th, 2011
9:30 pm

Edie,

Our public school systems should be held accountable for graduating only those persons who possess the reading, math, writing skills demanded in the adult world. To the extent that HS graduates do not meet these standards, their respective graduating systems should provide them needed remedial work.

The improvement of basic academic skills is not the focus of college-level work.

High school administrators, like their elementary- and middle-school colleagues, should not be allowed to continue the tragedy of committing unready graduates to high probabilities of failure at the next educational level.

We’ve got to insure that education of the poor and disadvantaged starts early and continues throughout their educational careers. But conferring diplomas in the absence of academic achievement does not solve the problem of poverty. Rather, so doing perpetuates it.

Toto

January 14th, 2011
9:40 pm

Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.
Parents, take control of your child’s education. We need to hit the restart button on public education. It’s clogged with corruption and even Drano can’t help! Top School can verify.

MomandTeacher

January 14th, 2011
9:46 pm

There is no doubt that there are thousands of students graduating who are functionally illiterate. I see them every day. But the pressure is on the teachers to pass them along anyway. Don’t give difficult or challenging assignments. And the parents call us monsters if we dare to try. It’s a parental and administrative crime but instead teachers get the bad reputation. Yeah, I’m looking for Superman too, to rescue me from enabling parents and glory-seeking boards.

justbrowsing

January 14th, 2011
10:12 pm

@mom and teacher- I understand your pain. I remain the monster as I know in the long run it is in the best interest of the student- remain strong.

Tony

January 14th, 2011
10:12 pm

sr – my apologies. I misread your post. you are correct. taking 5 yeart to graduate does not count.

Tony

January 14th, 2011
10:16 pm

Dr. Craig – so what about the kids who show up to school but don’t do their part to learn? It should not be the school’s responsibility to continually pursue those kids, keeping them in school and wasting precious resources. When they mature enough to realize they need an education and commit themselves to doing the work required, then let them finish school but not at the local high school. At some point, we’ve got to admit that schools can only do so much and the kid has to do their part. Otherwise, as I said earlier, these kids are wasting precious resources.

ScienceTeacher671

January 14th, 2011
10:48 pm

Tony, I agree that there must be some effort on the part of the students. We have had some students who stay in school until the age of 21, doing little to nothing, simply because they are allowed to by law. In a few cases, it has been to continue to receive government benefits that accrue so long as a “child” is in school but stop at graduation or age 21.

Providing a certain number of high school classes for free and requiring students to pay for repeating classes might provide some incentive to work harder, but I think the schools would have a greater obligation to ensure that students promoted to high school actually had the requisite skills to do high school level work.

The high schools get the blame when the students don’t graduate, or don’t graduate on time, but most of those who are failing were socially promoted to high school – some have been socially promoted all through elementary and middle school.

ScienceTeacher671

January 14th, 2011
10:50 pm

@Tony, how does the grad rate calculation work for GAA kids? Are they counted, or not?

MrLiberty

January 15th, 2011
9:58 am

Tony – So I guess that makes it ok since private business does it too? What a ridiculous comment. As well Tony, when a business falsifies data for the purpose of manipulating sales, investments, purchases, etc. it is call FRAUD and the victim can sue and the state may choose to bring criminal charges. The record of government lies with no accountability is about as long as the history of government. That is why the private sector is far superior. They are actually forced to obey laws, and even if they don’t, the public has the power to withdraw their monetary support and drive them out of business.

Whether they lie, cheat, or fail, the government always gets their money, ultimately at the end of a gun barrel if necessary. Good luck withdrawing your financial support from them.

Maybe someday you will see the benefit in supporting truth from everyone instead of excusing government because “everyone else was doing it.” Didn’t your parents teach you anything?

ScienceTeacher671

January 15th, 2011
10:24 am

@Math Maestro & @Tony: And what you say about industry does not make sense. For a company to be profitable, they will not invest in anything where the cost will go up exponentially and the return-on-investment will not. You can throw exponentially more money at the schools that might raise grad rates linearly. Not a good investment from the industry point of view.

That is precisely Tony’s point. Industries would not attempt to extract every single milligram of metal from the ore; it’s not cost-effective. However, NCLB says we are supposed to get every single child ready for college, and we have to do it in the same time frame for every child, whether that child has a genius IQ or is mentally challenged.

Hall County Parent

January 15th, 2011
11:46 am

Our system has been committing fraud for years regarding graduation rates from the looks of it by sending kids who don’t pass the GHST to the alternative school like another poster mentioned Dalton does. It has become fairly well known but no one seems to care as long as it makes the schools look good. What a great example of leadership and integrity we are providing for our kids. Cheat to win at all costs!

Hall County Parent

January 15th, 2011
11:48 am

I guess if it is being done in both Hall and Dalton there is probably zero chance of Dr. Barge looking into it though.

say what?

January 15th, 2011
1:00 pm

Maybe Sen.Millar will be the first school superintendent for the future county to made from Milton and North Fulton Counties, as well as Dunwoody and North DeKalb schools. He has become an “expert” at politcal issues of education but not an expert in education.

Now that all state elected officials, the govenors office, and the legislature has an even larger majority in both houses- how long til we see the new county become a reality? I say before Deal’s re-election.

fran millar

January 15th, 2011
2:09 pm

For several years I have publicly said the state (the former Governor and Dept of Education)have overstated the graduation rate. One reason I spent four years passing the Bridge bill was to give young people alternative pathways to a four year college and hopefully keep them in school and afford them opportunities to become productive citizens. We must have an educated workforce or else economic development will be severely limited. I am not an education expert and heve never claimed to be one. However I do understand education equals jobs equals economic growth.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 15th, 2011
2:27 pm

Tony,

Once kids realize that they have to earn promotions and graduations by learning, most will decide that studying to learn is not such a poor option. We’ll need to find effective alternative learning arrangements for the remainder who might continue to view studying to learn in a traditional school-setting as a poor choice.

Now, too many students figure that they don’t have to learn the curriculum at a given level in order to be promoted or graduated. Too many teachers and administrators figure that awarding apathetic kids the grades they deserve will come back to bite these educators in their evaluations.

So many of our schools continue to promote and graduate young folk who are not ready for the next levels in their academic or economic lives.

Who will muster the courage to put a stop to this fraud being perpetuated upon many students and many more taxpayers?

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

January 15th, 2011
2:30 pm

Fran,

Well-said.

Ole Guy

January 15th, 2011
3:50 pm

Let’s look at this issue from a different perspective; from a “user” point of view:

In light of the unemployment picture, how many jobs, requiring very little beyond a strong back, go unfilled simply because there are few applicants meeting minimum requirements? The question of graduation rates will never be anywhere near accurate simply because realistic numbers, easily available, would cause many of our “leaders” to be viewed in far less than charitable pictures. In fact, the realistic numbers would show, beyond a shadow of doubt, that the doe is a dismal failure.

Perhaps the Dept of Labor could provide stats on open jobs, requiring at least hs diplomas, which go unfilled over different periods of time. If doe actually provided (the easily available) stats, we would all, as taxpayers, be up in arms, so the manipulations continue, both in the interests of preserving existing jobs at doe, and in presenting public education in the best light possible. Either way, it’s just another government lie.

Tony

January 15th, 2011
4:16 pm

Science Teacher – GAA kids are counted as graduates in the formula. They receive a diploma because they have met all their requirements. However, very few students can be placed on GAAs because there is a 1% limit based on student enrollment.

Math Maestro – you got my point. As Science teacher already pointed out, schools are expected to educate ALL students as if they are all equal when they come to us. Rather, students can be compared to the ore example. Some ore is high grade and the metal is quite easy to extract. Some ore is medium grade and takes a bit more work but it is still financially feasible to derive the metal from the ore. Unfortunately, some ore has such a trace amount of metal that the cost is exorbitant. Here is the schools’ dilemma: how do we educate the kids that are the most resistant when we are not given the resources to do so?

gamom

January 15th, 2011
5:02 pm

Maureen – Since Sen Millar is considered one of the experts on education – What is his position on the issue of Corporal Punishment in Georgia Schools? What is his position on outlawing this practice? I know I’ll get slammed for asking this question.. but parents have been asking for years – of the house ed committee to please address this issue. Do these people not realize that this form of punishment is leading to drop- outs. The studies are there! This is not a secret. Please ask Sen Millar these questions. It is well known that some of the zero tolerance policies have been ineffective over the years – now let’s really start speaking about how Corporal punishment in Georgia Public schools is leading to disillusioned and fearful students which then leads to drop outs. 40 years ago, this was used in schools I attended. It caused problems then. And it is causing problems now.

Math Maestro

January 15th, 2011
9:30 pm

@Tony–”Here is the schools’ dilemma: how do we educate the kids that are the most resistant when we are not given the resources to do so?”

Non-compulsary education. Education is not in the US Constitution and should not be in the Georgia Constitution. Public education should be no more of service than public health clinics. Make it freely available, but not mandatory. Individuals are responsible for their own health not the clinic. The clinic is nothing more than an aid should the individual choose to attend. Those who do not follow the rules of the clinic will be removed.

ScienceTeacher671

January 16th, 2011
8:37 am

gamom, for what it’s worth, our district has not used corporal punishment for 15-20 years, and we still have a high dropout rate.

“Correlation does not imply causation.”