San Diego Unified’s class of 2016 set a record-high graduation rate of 91 percent. Graduation rates at individual high schools are climbing, too. Recently, 13 San Diego schools made a list of best high schools in America, in part for their high graduation rates.
But a closer look at individual high schools reveals a trend that might seem contradictory at first glance: Schools whose graduation rates are rising are simultaneously losing a significant number of students to charter schools and schools in other parts of town.
Lincoln High, for example, posted an 84.7 percent graduation rate – the highest since the school reopened in 2007. But nearly 60 percent of the students who started as freshmen at Lincoln High transferred to another school before they completed their senior year. More students left Lincoln than any other traditional high school in the district.
Last week, we reported that 581 students left a traditional San Diego Unified high school during the 2015-2016 school year and landed at a charter school. Of those who left, 34 percent were a year or more behind at the time they transferred. The data included students from all grade levels.
Neither San Diego Unified nor charter schools are breaking any rules as thousands of students shift from one to the other. But the relationship also allows charter schools to act as a safety valve for the district.
For the first time last year, San Diego Unified made a series of college-prep courses a high school graduation requirement. Students can avoid these classes, however, and still come away with a diploma simply by transferring to a charter school.
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And, yes, some high schools will demonstrate a higher rate of graduation because the high schools lose students to many reasons, including transferring to another school.
By the opposite token, schools like the Preuss School are touted for high graduation rates only because they are exclusive. That is, those schools can pick and do pick only certain students. Granted,. the Preuss School provides an exclusive program for students coming from very low income families who demonstrate extraordinary potential academically. But, it is a charter school. The question I have is why was the San Diego Unified School District unable to provide a school like this without the "charter" status?
Charters are not the panacea for the ills of a particular school district. And, as some very politically conservative legislators in Texas have pointed out, charters and the independent business people who run them, take money away from other worthy non charter public schools in a district.
Money for public schools anywhere in the U.S. is very limited and in some cases scarce. Taking money away from public schools is the wrong recipe for school improvement.
Very strong forces against public schools abound. Prayer is not allowed because that is a family/home decision. Children with special needs are schooled because all children have a right to an education. Color, ethnicity, and personal philosophy are woven into public schools because people with these traits are in America, are in our neighborhoods.
Public schools are the best deal dollar for dollar to launch children to their personal goals.
@John H Borja What data do you have that backs up your claim about public schools being the best deal dollar for dollar? The schools seem to be in constant financial trouble so I find your claim to be highly dubious. I don't know if Charters significantly improve things, but I try to keep an open mind about it. Competition seems like the only thing that will create accountability. Charters are also still public schools as far as I can tell so your final statement is ambiguous to me. I assume you are excluding charters from your final assessment. Is that correct? I would think that home schooling is the best deal dollar for dollar consider how high taxes are. Even if one parent wasn't working the family would remain in a lower tax bracket, would not have high child care costs that would eat away at the second family income (along with taxes), and families that home school appear to be overwhelmingly successful. Like you I couldn't prove that right at the moment, but your questions are thought provoking.
The first question that you posed is an interesting one. Perhaps regulatory barriers prevent the school district from doing that or perhaps the school board doesn't believe in that. Do you think it would be a good idea to write to a school board official and ask them why? If you can't get an answer then perhaps you should directly write to Mario and ask if he will pursue that angle in future reporting. I'm sure that many would be interested in the answer including myself. I've never seen serious answers to those types of questions posted in message boards.
Come on Mario, try to remember arithmetic; numerators and denominators? Inverse proportionality? The trick used by the SDPD? No?
Reduce the denominator (lose students) and you increase the rate. Increase the numerator and you can have the same effect.
Manipulate the denominator alone
The SDPD does both of the above, especially with respect to Asians; the model minority.
50/100 = 50.00%
50/95 = 52.63%
Manipulate both, and the effect is multiplied
55/100 = 55.00%
55/95 = 57.89%