More than four out of 10 students didn't graduate from Detroit
Public Schools (DPS) in 2007, according to data released today
by the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI).
Overall, Michigan's high school graduation rate for 2007 is
75.45 percent. That's a 10 percent drop from 2006, but state
officials say that the new formula used this year makes it
impossible to compare data to the previous year.
The average dropout rate for Michigan's 565 districts was 15.09
"Our estimate going in was that rates would decline statewide by
about 10 to 15 percent and that was pretty accurate," CEPI
Spokeswoman Leslee FRITZ.
All eyes today were on Detroit, which national studies have long
since fingered for having one of the country's lowest graduation
rates -- perhaps as low as 33 percent. The district also has
grappled with a $400 million budget shortfall and recently
submitted a deficit reduction plan to state Superintendent Mike
DPS' 58.42 percent graduation rate and 29.9 percent dropout rate
were not the worst numbers by far. Flint Public Schools had a
54.62 percent graduation rate, although its dropout rate --
26.73 percent -- was better than DPS.
"They, as a school district, and we, as a state, will have to
address these issues," Fritz said.
Fritz said that the new methodology used by the state presents a
more accurate picture for DPS than national studies, since CEPI
can better track students going in and out of the district (See
"Grad Rates Likely To Drop With New Formula," 8/22/08). She said
DPS has been challenged by a declining student population, which
is expected to dip below 100,000 for the first time this fall.
There was some good news. Eleven schools in Michigan boasted a
perfect 100 percent graduation rate.
CEPI also breaks down data by subgroups. There is a gender gap.
For the class of 2007, 80.07 percent of females and 71.06
percent of males graduated with a regular diploma in four years
or less. Economically disadvantaged students also fared worse,
"To be competitive, Michigan needs the best educated workforce
in the nation, and the fact that one in every four high school
students is failing to graduate on time is totally
unacceptable," said Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM. "That is why we have
fought for programs like early college and small high schools
that will help students, specifically minority and economically
disadvantaged students where the problem is most severe."
The 2007 four-year cohort graduation rate complies with the
requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) and
the National Governors Association Graduation Counts Compact
signed by the nation's 50 governors in 2005. The graduation rate
counts only those students who earn a regular diploma in four
years or less as on-time graduates.
In previous years, Michigan's graduation rate was calculated
using a one-year estimated rate. Under the previous methodology,
a rate was derived by determining a one-year retention rate
(dividing one year's fall enrollment by the previous year's fall
enrollment) for a building or district. Four one-year rates were
multiplied together to determine an estimated graduation rate.
"Earning a high school diploma is more critical than ever for
students to ensure success in postsecondary education and the
workplace," said CEPI Director Margaret Merlyn ROPP. "Using the
four-year cohort method to determine graduation and dropout
rates means we can help every student succeed by providing
education leaders and policymakers with a more accurate picture
of what's happening in Michigan high schools."
The Michigan Education Association (MEA) praised the new
methodology for providing more accurate numbers. The union also
highlighted the series of hearings across the state on the
dropout problem it has sponsored with other groups this year.
"These numbers are an important tool to help us fight the
dropout crisis, but they are only one tool," said MEA President
Iris SALTERS. "We have to continue broad community conversations
about this problem to better identify what works - and what
doesn't - in making sure students get a quality high school
education. And then we must work together in our communities to
make it happen."
Four hearings remain. Findings will be delivered to Granholm and
the Legislature at the Oct. 20 Dropout Prevention Leadership
Summit in Lansing.
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