Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Diplomas Count, Part III: Well, When You Look at it That Way…

(Part of a series looking at the 2008 Diplomas Count report from Education Week; you can find other articles here.)

The headline of one of the sections of the report reads, “US Public High Schools Losing 6,829 Students Per Day.” To get this figure they looked at the total number of students who enrolled as freshmen, the total number who graduated this year, found out how many disappeared, and divided that by the number of school days.

For Washington State, they say 28,001 students began as freshmen and didn’t make it to graduation. They then divided by 180 to get a figure of 156 students per day dropping out.

That’s a bit deceptive, though, because it assumes they all drop out the senior year. If this is the measure that they want to use it seems fairer to divide the number of dropouts by the total number of days in their high school career (720, or 180 times 4), which then changes the number to 44 students per day dropping out. Still a tragedy, but closer to true than what they reported.

When kids drop out of the high schools you know, is it a big deal (e.g., "Oh my God, Timmy's not here!") or does it mostly go unnoticed?

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