Graduation Rates: Chicago Says It Will Keep Better Track of At-Risk Students

Jun 12, 2015

by Becky Vevea

The NPR Ed Team’s investigation into high school graduation rates found that many states and school districts are using questionable, quick fixes to improve their grad rates.

At the top of that list was Chicago.

Over the last four years, thousands of dropouts across at least two dozen Chicago high schools never counted against the city’s graduation rate: Because the schools mislabeled them as having left the public system.

In response to the story, the city now says it’s going to crack down.

Officials don’t dispute the fact that the database is riddled with errors. Still, they say, they will not go back and revise the graduation rates.


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7 comments on “Graduation Rates: Chicago Says It Will Keep Better Track of At-Risk Students

  • It’s not just Chicago doing this. My upper middle class town outside of Boston does it too. Our high school Principal told me that after a student is 16 they have the right to quit school. If these kids start skipping school the staff contact the parents and try to get the student back on track but at some point they stop trying. These students just drift away and never file official paperwork to establish they’ve quit and why they quit. Our town then maintains a very low dropout number. That number placed next to our school test scores are public access information and all reflect on the town’s reputation. This all affects the price of housing. There is plenty of motivation for towns to keep their numbers looking pretty. They are relieved when these students just drift away out of sight. Usually they’re the difficult to deal with kids and the kids from the special ed departments, SPED who cost the system much more money than the average students. It’s just not honest to avoid collecting that information. These dropouts get lost in the shuffle and this is in no one’s best interest at all.



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  • These dropouts get lost in the shuffle and this is in no one’s best interest at all.

    We’re a sad, sad species. The next head line is Tough on Crime. And you wonder why. I was fond of a saying. “You don’t solve crime in the electric chair. You solve it in the high chair.” If adverse judgements were not made against towns and cities when drop out rates are published, maybe they wouldn’t scam the system.



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  • Yes David, sad indeed. These poor kids. The system is stacked solidly against them and I think they know it.

    We had one of these kids who grew up a few houses away from us. His father died when he was four and his mother was a drunk. Two older brothers were junkies and they were all packed into a broken down house. When this kid was 16 the school figured out he had learning disabilities that had never been addressed (because that is very expensive for the school/town). by the time he started skipping school and falling so far behind that catching up was impossible, the school announced that they would provide remedial help. He’s one that just drifted out of their view. Of course his mother was checked out and didn’t notice him. I had a business running strong at the time and I started picking him up every morning and set him to work for a good wage. He told me it was a very positive experience compared to the depressing impossible task of schoolwork. They made him feel like a stupid loser every day. My clients loved him. They fussed over him and complimented him on his good work and excellent manners. In the end my competitors stole him away from me but I was happy for him to go off and work with the big guys in the field. He’s doing fine but most dropouts don’t do so well. Life is tough enough without odds stacked against them like this.



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  • His father died when he was four and his mother was a drunk. Two older brothers were junkies and they were all packed into a broken down house.

    Ah the American dream. Everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve. It’s your fault if you are poor. It’s your fault if you are sick. In summary, it’s always your fault, especially for choosing the wrong family to be born into.

    High five to LaurieB for helping a fellow human being.



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  • In Australia the important statistic for a school is the pass rate at year 12 and the corresponding rates of A, B etc. At my school (and many others) there was the wonderful notion of a “terminating pass”. If you were doing badly at year 11 the school would pas you and write a nice reference as long as you agreed not to go onto year 12 and pollute the scores.



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  • 7
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    High five to LaurieB for helping a fellow human being.

    I second that. Living proof that guardian angels do exist. No wings needed, just a big heart.



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