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Group claims Danbury high school graduation rate are overstated

Cross post from HatCityBLOG

As we come to the end of the school year, today, The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) released its third annual comparison of official high school graduation for the area.

The analysis, based on a comparison of graduation figures by the Connecticut State Department of Education and Education Week’s Diplomas Count project (an independent group), shows a gaps of up to 39 percent between the two reports.

ConnCAN’s press release explains things…

The most accurate way to determine graduation rates is to track students on an individual level over a four-year period using a longitudinal database system to assess how many students actually receive a standard high school diploma. The Connecticut State Department of Education bases graduation rates on an older, less accurate methodology that relies on students to declare that they are dropping out and on districts to fully report these dropouts. The Diplomas Count methodology is the closest estimation possible without a longitudinal data system.

The Diplomas Count project provides the most accurate rates possible today by capturing the four steps to graduation: three grade‐to‐grade promotions (9th to 10th, 10th to 11th, and 11th to 12th) and receiving a diploma. However, because Diplomas Count does not have access to longitudinal data for individual students, this method is limited because it cannot distinguish between students who drop out and those who transfer to a private or out-of-district school. This study is based on 2006 data, the most recent year available for this project.

[…]

In 2007, the state legislature allocated $6.4 million over two years for the Connecticut State Department of Education to build a longitudinal data system with the capability to develop graduation rates on a cohort basis – such as used in the Diplomas Count study. In the past, the department has indicated that its goal is to have such a system up and running by 2010, five years after Governor Rell first committed the state to implementing this system in July 2005 when she signed a compact with the National Governors Association.

“Our hope is that this analysis boosts the effort to more accurately measure Connecticut’s graduation rates,” said ConnCAN Chief Executive Officer Alex Johnston. “We can’t fix Connecticut public education until we know what is broken, and we won’t know what’s broken until we measure it correctly.”

I know what you’re asking…how did Danbury High School rate in the report. Well, the results aren’t that great.

As you can see, the graduation figures from the State Dept of Ed’s less accurate methodology shows Danbury with a graduation rate of 89.5 percent while the report from the independent Education Week’s Diplomas Count project has the rate at 68.5 percent.

With Danbury having such a large graduation gap between the two reports, you can see ConnCAN’s point when it comes to the need for the state to implement a longitudinal database system so we can track graduation rates more accurately.