First, let me begin by saying I am not here to discuss particular districts or to throw anyone under the bus, my purpose is to present issues and begin a dialogue about the state of urban education and the need for reform. To preface, the school districts I am referencing represent typical, large, urban school districts that serve low-income communities. I was surprised to come across a local news broadcast on how two notoriously under-performing, large urban districts in Massachusetts saw noteworthy increases in their graduation rates from 2013 to 2014. That being said, I dug a little deeper into the numbers of these districts and some similar districts and here is what I found:
- Overall student graduation rates are between 60 and 65 percent
- Graduation rates among students with disabilities is nearly half that amount
- Graduation rates among Hispanic/Latino and African American/Black subgroups are on average 5 percent below overall rates
- Graduation rates for English Language Learners are significantly below the overall rates
- 9/10 non urban, non low-income serving districts have graduation rates above 85%
It is absolutely wonderful that these districts have seen an increase in students graduating, that is not the issue here. What is disturbing is that four in ten students living in these districts are not graduating from high school. In case you don’t see the problem, please the the economic importance of this in my previous post, ‘College “prep” goes beyond the classroom’. With this troubling data, why are we not discussing the inequity within our public schools? Why are we not screaming from the top of our lungs for reforms that will address this issue?! I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know that more accountability and more standardized tests are not going to address this gap. In fact, we may even see the gap widen….