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October 18, 2006
Christopher B. Swanson
Editorial Projects in Education Research Center
With the Manhattan Institute-Economic Policy Institute debates (see here and here) as its backdrop, this report offers a fresh look at Texas's 2002-2003 graduation rates. Its method of calculation (the Cumulative Promotion Index) has certain advantages: it shows the graduation rate for a specific year rather than for a specific class (which gives a better overall picture), and it can show where in the high school pipeline problems arise. In Texas, we learn, the largest percentage of dropouts leave school after ninth grade. This report calculates Lone Star State graduation rates differently than the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and it illustrates how drastically the state inflates them by as much as 35 percentage points. That's worth knowing, particularly because inflation is most acute in the numbers for minority youngsters who make up 61 percent of Texas's enrollment. The report also shows that the degree of school segregation between racial and socioeconomic groups in Texas is large and growing--a problem not least because of the strong correlation between segregation and high school graduation rates. Though limited to Texas, the report provides an interesting case study of one state's graduation rates, the demographic implications of the data, and the methods used to calculate published rates. See it here.