'Huge' drop in graduations
Chronicle Staff Writer
May 8, 2007
Officials challenge researcher's study on exit exam's effects
Graduation rates in school districts across California fell
significantly in 2006 -- the same year the state introduced the exit
exam as a graduation requirement, a UCLA researcher is reporting.
John Rogers, co-director of an education think tank at UCLA,
estimates that as a result of the new test of basic skills, the
state's graduation rate fell to 64 percent from an average of 73
percent over the five previous years, a loss of about 50,000
graduates in 2006.
"It's a huge drop-off," giving California one of the lowest
graduation rates in the nation, said Rogers of UCLA's Institute
for Democracy, Education & Access.
Relying on data from 194 school districts gathered by the
Department of Education in its defense against a lawsuit
seeking to overturn the exit exam requirement, Rogers
estimated graduation rates for those districts.
In his report, "Constructing Success?" Rogers uses three
Bay Area districts to help illustrate falling graduation
rates in 2006, compared with the average rate from 2001
to 2005: Oakland, 51 to 37 percent; Mount Diablo, 84 to
76 percent; and San Francisco, 74 to 73 percent.
State education officials immediately took issue
with Rogers' figures, saying the graduation rates
from last year are not the official numbers -- due
out later this week -- and can't be compared with
those of prior years.
State educators declined to disclose their 2006
graduation rate before the public announcement
due in a few days.
Deb Sigman, testing director with the
California Department of Education, said
only that "the graduation rate might be
higher" than Rogers' statewide estimate of
Rogers said he calculated 2006
graduation rates from the state's
lawsuit data, in which school districts
told the state how many students they
thought had graduated last year. Rogers
compared those graduates with the number
of students in their class when they
He did the same thing for the
previous five years, using numbers
from the state's Web site.
But the state includes
ninth-graders when it calculates
graduation rates -- and that
difference led to criticism of
Rogers' numbers by the group
hired by the state Legislature
to study the impact of the exit
exam on public education.
Using 10th-grade enrollments
to compute graduation rates
"is an old argument," said
Lauress Wise, president of
the Human Resources Research
Organization. "It ignores
students who may take five
rather than four years to
graduate and leaves open the
many reasons, besides the
(exit exam), why students do
not graduate on time."
Nevertheless, Wise said
Rogers is asking the
Wise and state
state as yet has no
accurate means of
rates because so
many students come
sued the state
last year in a
separate case to
of the exit
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San Francisco Chronicle