High school graduation, and the life changing experience for students and their parents as students transition to college, career, or the armed services, is a time of celebration and anxiety for all involved. However, for some students just reaching this milestone in education is a challenge. There are many research studies that have identified the factors associated with increased rates of dropout or decreased graduation rates.In a technical report published by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network and the Communities In Schools, Inc. (2007), four key factors were identified as being high risk indicators for dropout across grade spans:
Poor school attendance
Retention by grade
Low academic achievement
Low socioeconomic status (now referred to as economically disadvantaged)
Poor school attendance is the earliest and most significant factor associated with increased risk for dropout. Poor attendance can lead to academic failure and therefore is associated with low achievement and retention by grade. Hedy Chang, the Director of Attendance Works indicates, “Low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others often for reasons beyond their control, such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation and a lack of access to health care.” The research from this organization also indicates, “When students improve their attendance rates, they improve their academic prospects and chances for graduating.”
One of the major factors in the districts incremental improvement over the last few years has been the work on improving student attendance through School Committee approved policy and our continued collaboration with the Webster Police Department in completing home visits for students chronically absent. In addition to our focus on school attendance, we have improved our promotion rates, particularly at the 9th grade level where students often encounter loss of academic credit for poor attendance and not completing assigned work.
Dropout rate is the measure of how many students dropped out of school during that school calendar year. The Webster Public Schools dropout rate for the 2015 - 2016 school year is 6.8 with the high needs population having a dropout rate of 11.7. This rate has remained relatively constant because the rate is determined by the number of students dropping out divided by the total enrollment of the high school and while the actual number of students dropping out has decreased the total enrollment at the high school has also decreased until this year.
For Webster's Dropout Rates click here!
Graduation rate has four different measures: 4 year graduation rate, the 4 year adjusted graduation rate, the 5 year graduation rate, and the 5 year adjusted graduation rate. The four year rate is calculated based on the number of students in a cohort who graduate in 4 years or less divided by the number of 1st time 9th grade students 4 years earlier minus the transfers out and adding the transfers in. The adjusted rate does not include the transfers in and is inherently higher than the 4 year or 5 year rate. The 5 year rate allows for students who under the Individual’s with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) who have the legal right to remain in school until the age of 22 to be represented as part of a graduating cohort statistic, as well as anyone who was credit deficient to graduate with an additional year. However, the 5 year rate and adjusted 5 year rate represent a different graduating class in any given year. So for example, the 4 year rate represents the class of 2016, but the 5 year rate represents the class of 2015.
For Webster Graduation Rates click here!
The data as reported by the state is complex, but we use this data to benchmark our progress and to implement research based practices to address the factors associated with high risk for dropout. The issues associated with the variety of reasons for dropout are not solely within the purview of the school district alone. Increased expectations for regular attendance and academic performance are variables that the school administration and teachers are incapable of accomplishing in isolation, and yet we are held accountable to improve this data. As the African proverb states, “It takes a whole village to raise a child.”