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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: graduation rates

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

June 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

U.S. graduation average improves, but with wide racial disparities

US graduation rates graphic

Screen grab from the Education Week report

As high schools graduate students across the region this spring, parents may be wondering how Washington stacks up against other states. A handy interactive map published by Education Week shows six years of graduation rates, state-by-state, ending with the Class of 2012.

For the first time in American history, the national graduation rate hit 81 percent, meaning that more than eight in 10 students completed high school with a diploma.

Washington state, with a published graduation rate of 79 percent in 2012, hovers just below that milestone. (And the rate dipped in 2013, to 76 percent, according to data from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.)

But when rates are examined by racial or ethnic groups, wide disparities appear.

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May 16, 2014 at 5:56 PM

New York Times dives deep into grad rates and achievement gaps

Sunday’s New York Times magazine features an extensive story about how the University of Texas is working to help its low-income students fight the odds and graduate on time. At the center of the effort is chemistry professor David Laude, who started a special interdisciplinary program for low-income, high achieving students 15 years ago.

Today, his program has expanded across the university’s Austin campus and assists students by providing them with smaller classes, peer mentoring and extra tutoring. Administrators identify candidates for the program using an analytics tool that considers factors like a student’s family income and SAT score to establish the probability he or she will graduate in four years.

Many of the statistics and themes included in the story have appeared in previous Education Lab coverage, including Claudia Rowe’s recent piece about how outside guidance programs are helping more low-income students get into college.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: graduation rates, higher ed, race

April 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Who’s graduating on time? In Everett, the rate keeps rising

The Everett school district used to have one of the worst on-time graduation rates in the Puget Sound area. But after a concerted effort over more than 10 years, the district has raised its on-time graduation rate from the low 50s in 2003 to more than 80 percent.

Last year, after a few years of stagnation, it saw another increase — from 81.8 percent in 2012, to 84.4 percent for the class of 2013.

gradratesThe district credits the rise with a renewed effort to examine, student by student, the problems and challenges that students encounter, said Jeannie Willard, the district’s on-time graduation coordinator. (How many school districts have a position like that?)

One new lesson: The district found that it helps to give students an immediate chance to catch up if they fail a class, not making them wait until the next semester, or summer school. Now, for example, teachers sometimes write contracts with students to finish missed work after a semester ends.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Everett School District, graduation rates, high-school graduation

April 18, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Washington’s two-tiered system of higher education

Last Sunday’s story, “From Slipping Through the Cracks to the College Track,” noted that despite our brainy national image, Washington state has shockingly low college-going rates compared to the rest of the country. Only 60 percent of high school graduates here enroll in any four-year institution.

But for low-income kids, the rates are truly troubling.

Among the Class of 2012, only 18 percent enrolled in four-year colleges. Instead, many chose to attend no-barrier community colleges — even those who do well in school and score highly on standardized tests. Number-crunchers at the State of Washington Education Research & Data Center ran figures for The Times, and found that only 21 percent of low-income students who’d tested well in math went to four-year schools. But about one-third enrolled at community colleges (see graph below).

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Comments | More in News | Topics: Community colleges, counselors, graduation rates

March 24, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Understanding the quirks in state’s college completion rate

Washington’s public four-year colleges have long bragged that their completion rates — that is, the percentage of students who finish their degrees and graduate — are among the best in the nation. And according to a federal postsecondary analysis of data, they are.

But a new study by the respected National Student Clearinghouse, which verifies college degrees to employers and also collects tremendous amounts of data on college completion, appears to show that Washington’s six-year graduation rate for four-year public colleges is not, in fact, the nation’s best — that it’s worse than the national average.

How can that be?

It’s a quirk in the way colleges are classified. In 2007, a few of Washington’s community colleges started offering applied baccalaureate degrees, or four-year degrees. Currently, 11 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges do so, and more of these degrees are likely to be approved in the future. Some of these colleges have also dropped the word “community” from their names.

So, are they still two-year colleges, or not?

According to the way colleges are classified, they’re now four-year colleges — even though only a  fraction of the students they graduate get baccalaureate degrees.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: college, graduation rates, higher ed

January 3, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How much do dropouts cost us? The real numbers behind ‘pay now or pay later’

Plenty of educators opine vaguely about the costs to society when a student drops out of school. But in 2011, an economist and professor of public policy at Columbia University dug into the numbers to tally the actual dollar figures, and they are stunning.

Of 40 million Americans between 16 and 24, about 6.7 million are neither in school nor employed. About half are high school droupouts; the others may have a GED. All are underemployed, if they work at all.

To taxpayers, each of these so-called “opportunity youths” imposes a lifetime cost of about $235,680 in welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice and medical care. Multiply that across the full 6.7 million cohort and the hit is nearly incomprehensible: $1.6 trillion.

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November 15, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Word to educators: Stop talking about fixes and just try something

Despite recently announced incremental gains by state students on national tests, 1 million kids will fail to graduate from high school on time this year.

The urgency of this fact — and what to do about it — were the subject of a talk given by Leonard Pitts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, to educational policymakers at a GradNation Summit in Bellevue earlier this week.

Pitts said he understood paralysis in the face of enormous need — such as the fact that only 42 percent of America’s fourth graders are proficient in math, and only 35 percent read at grade level.

“Incredibly, these numbers, as disheartening as they are, actually represent incremental progress,” Pitts told the audience of educators and policymakers.

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Comments | Topics: GradNation, graduation rates, Leonard Pitts