In March, Julian Betts, a researcher from UCSD who had calculated the number of San Diego Unified students on track to graduate this year, said the district would need “a miracle” to raise its graduation rate to 90 percent.
A miracle is what the district must have gotten, because it’s about to pull it off.
What’s more, they’ve done it under tougher new graduation requirements that better align with college entrance requirements: The graduating class of 2016 will have taken a series of 15 yearlong college prep courses, known as A-G classes, which students need in order to get into UC and CSU schools.
The new graduation requirements aren’t radically different from the old ones. But they require two years of the same foreign language, which is new, and three years of math, one of which must be intermediate Algebra or its Common Core equivalent. Those two courses, along with English, have become the three biggest sticking points for the class of 2016, according to the study Betts and UCSD researchers put together.
Based on his numbers – which included student data up to August 2015 – about 15 percent of class of 2016 students had more than a year’s work to complete. At best, about 85 percent of students would graduate this year, he predicted.
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You also may want to check if charter school stats are included in graduation rates since some of those extra counselors who are hired are diligently 'weeding out' students who are behind in credits and sending them to charters where they may or may not be graduating either. the percentage of those who are left at the school and who are graduating goes up but enrollment slips
Easing standards and grade inflation....that sounds like the answer to our Lake Wobegon results...with all the children above average...
EASING STANDARDS: Not requiring a C grade, as was the case before ...but giving course credit for a D.
This means the student would not be given credit at UC or CSU campuses.
GRADE INFLATION: ...Sounds like there is pressure on teachers, not to fail a student, but to give a D grade, just to make Cheryl Hibbeln and Dr. Marten look good. How objective are the course tests and grading?
Since only about 30% of the population graduate from college, what will become of these students, who have no work skills or training, once they spend a semester or two in college?
To quote Mark Twain: "There are three kinds of lies...Lies, damn lies and statistics."
The use of online courses is fascinating, and likely related to the concept presented by @EducatedMom. What's the definition of a course, and who sets that? If an online course counts for credits and includes the ability to test out, how much of high school could a student test out of?
Is there a chance we're seeing a glimpse of the future of education, and SDUSD is acknowledging that many instructional methods are outdated? If not, then it would seem there's some acceptance that graduation is more important than learning.
VOSD reports "An all-time high grad rate is nothing to scoff at, but the numbers we’ve seen don’t break down which students are still falling behind."
I ask, why does VOSD not ask for the breakdown? Investigative reporting?
One thing you didn't mention (and apparently Betts was unaware) is that many of the schools that had the lowest "on track to graduate" rates were also schools that offered a 4x4 schedule. Unlike a traditional, 6-period schedule, where a student takes the same 6 classes for two semesters throughout the year, in a 4x4 schedule, students cover a year's coursework for four classes in one semester. This allows students at these schools to complete 8 classes in a year (or one could finish two years of consecutive coursework in a single subject in a year, over the two semesters). This gives students more opportunity for credit recovery or to catch up if they are behind in a specific sequence. (A "rotating 8" schedule of 8 classes doesn't offer consecutive courses in a single year, but does offer the ability for students to take more courses in a single year than if they had only 6 periods.)
Not that I'm advocating for all schools to switch to a 4x4 schedule, which has some concerns that have not been explored for their impacts on student learning. For example, the actual number of instructional minutes of a given class are fewer in a 4x4 schedule than it is with 6 periods. The instruction in subjects in a 4x4 schedule can be non-contiguous (e.g. one could take a math class in the fall semester one year, then not have a math class again until fall the following year, allowing for attrition of subject content knowledge). How are AP courses taught (in the first semester, leaving 3+ months of no instruction before the exam; or in the second semester, leaving just 13-14 weeks of instruction before the exam), and does this impact the passage rates of students taking the AP exams?
@EducatedMom That's a good point about the 4x4.
I think this is great if it actually is a fair representation of the District. But I believe it is totally impossible. Either the students were given higher grades than they earned, the standard was lowered or lower ranked (not passing) students were excluded or some other way was found to have these numbers. There are many excellent teachers and administrators working on increasing graduation rates but so much of the success must go to the students who many don't seem to care about college or grades.