Thursday, May 19, 2011


John Rogers of UCLA/IDEA writes 4LAKids

18 May 2011 - The story you ran from the Daily News (about A-G graduation rates) contained an error.     11 May : 4LAKidsNews: | Daily News:

I checked with the reporter (Connie Llanos) today and she informed me that they had fixed the error in the print version, but had neglected to make the change in the electronic copy (which they are now going to pull down.)

  The short version of the problem is that they reported that A-G completion rates have fallen since 2003 (across all sub-groups).  In fact, A-G completion rates have risen during this period, particularly for Latino students.  The A-G graduation rates are still not where I or most anyone else would want them to be, but they have not fallen.  

The reason why the Daily News found that A-G completion rates had fallen is that they looked at one measure for 2003 and a very different measure for the current year—in effect, comparing apples and oranges. 

  • The figures they report for 2003 represent the district’s data on the percentage of graduates who graduate aA-G eligible.  (# of A-G Grads divided by TOTAL # of Grads.) 
  • The figures from the district for the class of 2011 represent the proportion of the original 9th grade cohort who are on track to graduate a-g eligible (# of A-G Grads divided by TOTAL # of students in original 9th grade cohort.)  
  • The original 9th grade cohort is much larger than the number of graduates because many students from the original cohort drop out or remain in school and do not graduate. 
  • So, when you divide A-G grads by the 9th grade cohort, you are bound to come up with a smaller % than when you divide A-G graduates by total graduates.

It seems that the Daily News caught their own mistake and made the change.  It is just too bad that the story got out (probably to even more people) through posts like yours and our News Roundup.  (I was out of town, and so didn’t even know about all this until too late.)

If nothing else, the incident speaks to the need for a much better data system so that we can track student progress in a meaningful way.  And of course, the Governor’s May revision provided no funds to CALPADS or CALTIDES—so we may not address this need for some time.

All my best,

John Rogers
Associate Professor, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Director,  UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access (IDEA)
Faculty Director, UCLA’s Principal Leadership Institute

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