The DPI released graduation rates last year using both the new and old calculation method for the state and individual school districts, and did the same again this year.
An example of the difference between the two calculations: The legacy rate for the most recent data shows Wisconsin’s students had a 90.5% graduation rate for 2011, instead of the 87% rate for that class under the new method the federal government considers more accurate.
Using the new, stricter method, the data shows Milwaukee Public Schools’ graduation rate increased for 2011 to 62.8%., up from 61.1% in 2010.
“We have much more work to do, but these numbers – along with ACT score growth and growth in 10th grade state test scores – show that we continue to move in the right direction,” MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton said in a statement Thursday.
MPS officials on Thursday pointed out that the 1.7 percentage-point increase between the two years for the district was greater than the state four-year graduation rate increase in that time. The state’s four-year rate increased 1.3 percentage points, from 85.7% in 2009-’10.
The annual report from the Department of Public Instruction released Thursday also showed Madison’s four-year graduation rate dipped slightly last year to 73.7 percent.
According to the data, 50.1 percent of Madison’s black students graduated in four years, up from 48.3 percent in 2010. The white student graduation rate declined about 3.1 percentage points, to 84.1 percent.
District officials and education experts said it was unclear what accounted for the changes, and it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about Madison’s achievement gap from one or two years of data.
“You need to be looking over a period of several years that what you’re looking at is real change rather than a little blip from one to the other,” said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
The graduation rates of black and white students in Madison have been a major topic of discussion in the city over the past year.Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Even as the Obama administration is busy dismantling much of NCLB through waivers, it is standing firm on some Bush-era decisions.
One of them is to consider high school graduation to be exactly that — graduating with a regular diploma, even if it takes five or six years for kids with special barriers. For accountability decisions affecting high schools, the Bush administration would not allow states to give schools “graduation” credit for students who obtain a GED or certificate of completion — only a regular diploma would do.
In response to the Obama administration’s new “ESEA Flexibility” initiative, states have taken another run at that decision, which was enshrined in last-gasp Bush regulations issued in October 2008.