The communications team at San Diego Unified School District is quite excited about a new report from UC San Diego’s San Diego Education Research Alliance.
The report is an update on the class of 2016, which the group had studied before. That cohort was significant because it was the first to face new, more stringent graduation requirements. Read Maya Srikrishnan’s breakdown of the report’s findings.
The researchers’ earlier warnings about how far behind that class was startled us. So, last year, when the district proclaimed the class had a 91 percent graduation rate, we wanted to understand how that happened.
Mario Koran took on the quest, which went in a number of different directions, many of which school district officials did not appreciate.
When the new report came out, the district pounced. In a press release, the district wrote: “In addition to analyzing graduation rates and student performance, the report looked into allegations a local news outlet raised about the district’s graduation rate. Data analysis included in the report helps confirm the allegations are false.”
I’m taking the leap to assume that by “a local news outlet,” they mean Voice of San Diego.
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The superintendent is supposed to do what's best for the students. This sounds like those who make big money at the central office are more concerned about themselves. "Best graduation rate in big cities in California", Miss Marten repeats on the early morning news.
Last week, it was Richard Barrera, on the news, swearing it was true...91%...Is this what's important.
How about teaching some skills and knowledge that will help these graduates get jobs when they leave school.
Why force all students to take A to G courses. This is only important if you're trying to go to a University of California campus. Only about a third of high school graduates finish college.
If children struggle with foreign language, Calculus or World History, instead of beating them over the head with it or discarding them to schools with very low standards and no oversight, teach them something they can use...a skill that will help them get a good job.
Glad you're still covering this story, Scott. And I agree, it's 80%...not 91..
I appreciate the attention to detail on this story. However, this is not the biggest issue in SDUSD at this time. In fact, it's chump change. There are systemic issues across almost every department. I wish VOSD would devote more time and attention to these areas.
Thank you, Scott. My next-door neighbor is a librarian with the SDUSD, who has worked at numerous schools as SDUSD assigns her according to need.
She says "Thank God for VOSD", and wants me superficially not only to thank all of you for your hard work, but "by God" please keep it up!
Thank you, Scott, for defending the newsworthiness and findings of VOSD's investigations and articles about SDUSD. All large institutions need watchdogs.. Mario has touched some raw nerves at the District in relation to graduation rates, and the story is not over. As a retired SDUSD teacher and a member of a City Heights community group that promotes parent, student and community engagement with the school district, I crave greater transparency. Anyone who attends school board meetings recognizes there are serious issues related to trust. District leadership and Board members owe it to us all to be truthful rather than defensive, forthcoming rather than secretive, collaborative rather than "pretend collaborative". Like you, Scott, I await an explanation by the District as to any falsities in VOSD's reporting. And for crying out loud District staff, please don't do it in Tweet!
@Kris Larsen If you decrease the denominator you increase the rate. Simple trick; in fact, it is not a trick at all. The SDPD does the opposite to drive down their biased-policing rates.
Relax Scott. In a comparison between VOSD and the SDUSD, you folks (and especially Mario Koran) win every time. However, there is one area in your defensive piece that causes some concern. You stated: "Now, is counseling a student to leave different than “pushing” them out? We rarely used that word in our coverage (though I did personally). I think telling a student and his or her parent they should leave a school qualifies as a “push” whether they actually physically pushed them out the door or not."
You can, and did, argue the definition of push...just not very convincingly. There are many other words which could have been used to describe the District's practices regarding under-achieving students. They may have pressured the students to go, simply made the students aware of charter school opportunities, or something in between. It's pretty clear to all that no one from the district physically pushed a student out the door, so my suggestion to you, and to today's media in general, is to try actually reporting what happened without the hyperbole. Yeah, pushed sounds more exciting, and may get more folks to read, but if your desire is to be taken seriously, less hyperbole and more accuracy will serve you and VOSD better in the future. At the very least you won't have to defend your choice of phrases so often.
@obboy13 Let me chime in. Scott is defensive and has much to be defensive about. When first, I saw this thing mentioned many months ago, I made my standard "denominator" argument and referenced the SDPD's purging "potentially incriminating data" to make their biased policing numbers look better. Purging is a form of "pushing" data out. Scott is familiar with that one too, for I told him about it. Much later his staff wrote a piece about the SDPD report being "watered-down."
I suppose we could say that graduation rates were "pumped-up" when students were "pushed out."