Saturday, January 14, 2006

Finders Of The Hidden Dropouts

In Colorado, the state is mandating a new reporting protocol in order to learn the true high school dropout rate:
Secondary school principals will have to start counting all students who do not show up for class as "dropouts" unless they have written proof from another school that the student has transferred, according to new rules adopted Thursday by the State Board of Education.

The move is expected to greatly increase the number of counted dropouts.

Before Thursday's decision, principals often counted students as transfers even though they never confirmed those students enrolled in another school.

Nearly one in five seniors left their high schools in the state's 20 largest districts in 2003, according to state records reviewed by The Denver Post last year.

The findings also revealed a flawed and inconsistent student tracking system, with no checks or balances for accuracy.

As a result, experts say, many more students may be dropping out of Colorado's public high schools than the state reports.

Proponents pushed for Thursday's rule changes so that the state will one day have more-reliable graduation figures.

"I hope districts will be comfortable with these new rules. It's not about a 'we-gotcha,"' said Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, who sponsored a bill in the General Assembly last year that asked state board members to refine their definitions of "dropouts" and "transfers."
A cynic might wonder if there are other states out there who've been manipulating data in order to disguise what would be an even more alarming dropout rate. And for what purpose would they be concealing it?
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