Michael has begun to unwrap the Sunday Denver Post’s commentary section on the state of high school education in Colorado. Michael breaks down each of the three pieces and opens them up for analysis and criticism.
He isolates a section from the first article – by State Board of Education Vice Chair Jared Polis and CU Board of Regents member Patricia Hayes – for its bad data, part of which I’ve also excerpted here:
While the 2003 graduation rate for white students was 68 percent, it was only 44 percent for black students and 42 percent for Hispanic students.
The premier study on public high school graduation rates comes from the Manhattan Institute’s Dr. Jay Greene. Although tracing the statistics on graduation & drop-outs is far from a perfect science, Greene at least has established a fair, logical, consistent methodology to generating his results.
According to Greene’s study, the overall 2002 graduation rate in Colorado was 72%, basically at the national average. To further compare the stats with those cited by Polis and Hayes (for 2003), here are more of the Manhattan Institute’s findings:
I also want to echo Michael’s comments about the Dan Haley column on Denver School of Technology & Science (DSTS). Though DSTS is certainly not perfect, it is having significantly more success than other nearby high schools. And though not everything that DSTS leaders promote in their school would be transferable to every situation, there is a lot to be learned and studied: accountability, academic rigor, fewer and more intense courses. Maybe there’s something to it. Nor should the important fact that it is a charter school be overlooked (again, a nod to Michael).
Overall, you’ve got to applaud the Post before opening up the subject for discussion and for proposing some serious ideas for reform. My questions for you after you’ve read the Haley column: why aren’t more public high school implementing programs like the one at DSTS? What is standing in its way? Food for thought.
Michael is right on: when will the education establishment start making the question of “What works?” a priority? It is sad you have to urge them to take a look at a school that is demonstrating success.