Sunday, November 25, 2007

focus on the dropouts

The other day Ryan looked out nationwide dropout trends. What about here in the Evergreen State? David Marshak seconds what I've been saying for a couple years now:
If we take 84 percent — the passing rate — of the 72 percent of the students included in Bergeson's count, this means that only about 60 percent of the original members of the class of 2008 have passed the WASL.

When you have 40 percent of your kids failing, it's hard to see why Bergeson is claiming victory. Forty percent of our kids failing is very bad news indeed.

Bergeson's tactic of ignoring the entire class of 2008 — and focusing only on the 70 percent or so who made it to the 12th grade on time — unfortunately is typical of too many chief state school officers. Massachusetts claims a 95 percent passing rate on its graduation tests, even though 30 percent of its kids drop out. Texas has claimed 85 percent passing, even though its most recent school attrition rate is 34 percent.

Standards-and-testing — the Essential Academic Learning Requirements/WASL system — was supposed to deliver "world-class schooling" for all kids. That was the original promise. Then Bergeson amended it to only 80 percent of the kids. Now she's claiming victory even though only about 60 percent of the kids are likely to pass the WASL and graduate on time.

Is this really a great achievement after 14 years and who knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars spent on testing? And, are our schools not pretty much where we were in 1992 before we started with this unproven yet very expensive obsession with standards and high-stakes testing?
If we aren't helping more students graduate, then WASL reform is no reform at all.

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