Friday, September 26, 2008


Los Angeles Unified showed a drop to 27.5 percent. Critics have said districts are under-counting dropouts.  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in July he believed more than half of LAUSD students drop out. The district rates include charters which can have a higher number of dropouts.

By Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer | Daily Breeze

Sept 26 -- There were fewer public high school dropouts at most South Bay school districts than was recently reported by state education officials, according to revised data released this week.

The statewide dropout rate fell to 21.5 percent from the 24.2 percent reported two months ago, state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell said Thursday.

"To see a reduction of about 3 percent is clearly a step in the right direction," O'Connell said. "But, that said, it's still too high. It's unacceptable."

The original figures were based on preliminary data from the California Department of Education.

The new data also showed a statewide graduation rate of 67.7 percent, which does not includes students who left the state, transferred to private schools or earned a high school equivalency certificate.

Most local districts remained well ahead of the state average in keeping students in school.

The biggest changes seen locally in the new data were in two districts that had fared poorly in July's numbers.

Inglewood Unified School District, which originally had the worst record locally with a 41.8 percent dropout rate, showed a much less dramatic 16 percent rate in the revised data. Inglewood Unified officials did not return calls for comment.

Los Angeles Unified also showed a drop, from the original 33.6 percent to 27.5 percent.

In July, the California Department of Education released data that for the first time tracked individual students for the 2006-07 school year. Dropout figures from that year were used to estimate a four-year "derived" dropout rate.

The new method was touted as a much improved way of reporting dropouts. The data showed a greater percentage of students leaving schools than an earlier error-prone and incomplete system had shown.

This week's data was the result of more complete reporting by schools districts. Administrators statewide tracked down about 14,000 "lost transfer" students, who had been reported as dropouts but had in fact enrolled at other schools, O'Connell said.

There was also a better accounting of students who were considered neither dropouts nor graduates - 10.8 percent of students. That group included those who passed the GED, left the state or transferred to private schools as well as special education students who "completed" school but did not receive diplomas.

The data continued to reflect a widespread racial and ethnic achievement gap, though the statewide dropout rate for black students - now at 36.2 percent - was 5.4 points better than previously reported. The dropout rate for Latinos statewide was at 27.4 percent, 2.9 percent better than the July figure.

Locally, Redondo Beach Unified was the only district to see an uptick in its dropout rate. The new data showed 11.8 percent of Redondo students dropping out, up 0.4 percent from its July rate.

The district rates include charter, alternative and continuation high schools, which can have a higher number of dropouts.

Critics of the state's reporting have said that, even with the new methodology, districts are under-counting dropouts.

Private studies have reported higher dropout rates than state data show. And Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in July he believed more than half of LAUSD students drop out.

O'Connell said the accuracy of the dropout count should improve as more years of data are added in future.


CDE Press Release

California Department of Education News Release

Release: #08-131
September 25, 2008

Contact: Tina Jung
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Releases Revised Dropout
and Graduation Rates Using Individual Student-Level Data

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today released revised dropout and graduation rates for the 2006-07 school year that for the first time were compiled using Statewide Student Identifiers (SSID).

"The revised graduation rate is up slightly to 67.7 percent and the dropout rate is down nearly three points to 21.5 percent for 2006-07," said O'Connell. "Of course, I do not want to see any student drop out of school – graduating from high school is critically important for all students' future success. However, I am pleased that districts are finding even more of our students still in our public school system. The updated data indicate that our use of Statewide Student Identifiers is working as intended. School districts now are highly motivated to communicate with each other to track down students lost in the system to determine their status."

Each K-12 student in a California public school is entered into the SSID system and assigned an individual, yet non-personally identifiable, number that is maintained throughout the student's academic career. SSIDs allow for more accurate tracking of how many students are or are not completing their education. Offering districts the opportunity to correct data is a standard part of any data reporting process. The deadline for school districts to submit their corrected dropout and graduation data to the California Department of Education (CDE) was August 29. The data corrections were then reviewed by the CDE's Data Management Division and the revised rates were posted this week.

The revised 2006-07 graduation rate of 67.7 percent is up 0.1 percent from the 67.6 percent rate preliminarily reported in July. The federal government requests that states provide a four-year derived dropout rate. The revised four-year derived statewide dropout rate of 21.5 percent is down 2.7 percent from the 24.2 percent reported in July. In two subgroups of concern in the state's efforts to close the achievement gap, the dropout rates declined. Among African American students, the revised dropout rate is 36.2 percent, down 5.4 percent from the 41.6 percent reported in July. Among Latino students, the dropout rate is now 27.4 percent, down 2.9 percent from the July report.

Students counted as dropouts include students who are known dropouts and students considered "lost transfers," or students who indicated they were transferring to another school but then were not reported as enrolled anywhere else. The revised rates show 3,000 fewer students reported as known dropouts and 14,000 fewer students reported as lost transfers.

The revised rates also include an update on the number of students who are neither graduates nor dropouts, now at 10.8 percent, up 2.6 percent from the 8.2 percent reported in July. The latter group consists of students who completed or withdrew from school, such as students who transferred to a private school, left the state, took the General Educational Development Test (GED®) to earn a California High School Equivalency Certificate, or became a "completer," such as a special education student who received a certificate of completion or other credential in lieu of a diploma. Each student, whether they graduated, withdrew from, or completed school is assigned one of 28 "withdrawal codes." For the complete list of withdrawal codes, please visit Exit/Withdrawal Codes Descriptions, Version 8.0.3.

The 2006-07 dropout rate cannot be compared to the prior year's dropout rate of 13 percent because the numbers are based on different information. Before SSIDs, dropout rates were derived using only aggregate data of enrollment and dropouts collected annually through the California Basic Educational Data System. Now, individual student-level data allow districts and the state to collect and report what becomes of students who leave school.

For example, in the past if a parent told a school that a student was transferring to a different school, the school would mark that student as having transferred to another public school. With SSIDs, the state can determine whether students marked as transfers indeed did enroll in another California public school. If the student does not register at another California public school, schools are highly motivated to try and find out what happened to the student so the record will not reflect a dropout.

Dropout-rate calculations are not posted for schools that are operated by county offices of education because of constraints in interpreting these calculations with high-mobility schools. Caution also must be used when calculating or analyzing dropout rates for other schools with high mobility, including alternative schools or schools eligible or participating in the Alternative Schools Accountability Model. These schools are designed for students who are already at risk of not graduating because they are deficient in credit, have poor attendance, or prior academic challenges, and should not be compared to regular comprehensive high schools. Students may stay in these schools for short periods of time with the intent of returning to their local comprehensive high schools. The dropout-rate calculations compare the counts of dropouts over the entire school year with a single day enrollment count on the California Basic Educational Data System's Information Day (the first Wednesday in October). Thus, calculating dropout rates for schools with a high volume of short-term students may result in overstated rates in excess of 100 percent because the point-in-time enrollment count will significantly understate the actual enrollment over time.

SSIDs will eventually be tracked through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS, which will maintain longitudinal, individual student-level data including student demographics, program participation, grade level, enrollment, course enrollment and completion, discipline, state assessment, teacher assignment, and other data required to meet state and federal reporting requirements. CALPADS is scheduled to be fully implemented with all districts in the 2009-10 school year. Until student-identifier data are collected over four years, CDE will still be reporting an estimated four-year graduation rate and a derived four-year dropout rate.

"Schools and districts are working hard to accurately collect and report data using Statewide Student Identifiers, but they still need training and assistance to ensure ongoing data quality," O'Connell added. "The Statewide Student Identifier system is a great tool, but it will be unable to provide a true picture of our schools unless accurate data are collected and reported. There is a high rate of turnover among data coordinators at the local level. I continue to urge the Governor and Legislature to provide funding – just $5 per student – to support local data collection and reporting efforts."

Senate Bill 1453, authored by former state Senator Dede Alpert, was signed into law in September 2002 to require the assignment of SSIDs. Local educational agencies have completed assigning all California kindergarten through grade twelve public school students a SSID. To download state-, county-, district-, and school-level dropout data, please visit CDE's DataQuest at: DataQuest. Downloadable data files will be uploaded in the about two weeks and will be found at Student Data Files.

# # # #

Jack O'Connell — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

No comments: