Drop Out Update

The Rochester School Department has reported a drop out rate to the State of New Hampshire that has been reduced significantly from the previous years.  The overall rate for the2008-2009 school year for the District is 3.3%, and Spaulding High School is only 3%.  The overall 4 year drop rate for Rochester will be close to 15% with some State data to be finalized.  If Rochester continues with the 3% rate the cumulative four year rate will drop to nearly 10%.  Any student that drops out of school is significant, but Rochester has made progress in the last year in reducing the drop out rate.

 In 2007-08, over 100 students dropped out of SHS.  In 2008-09, 53 students dropped out of Spaulding High School & Bud Carlson Academy combined.   Of the 53 students that dropped out, four have now earned their GED.  Three students of the 53 are enrolled in college at this time.  These students, six different students, are still considered drop outs, but have a better chance of success based on their progress.

There are several reasons for the improvement last year – and the expectation of continued improvement this year (and beyond):
* The decision two years ago to establish Bud Carlson Academy as a separate alternative school rather than a program within the high school.
* The success last year of Bud Carlson Academy in its very first year.  Sixty-one students graduated from BCA. 
* The new state law (in effect as of this school year) raising the legal drop-out age to 18 years.
* The absolutely tenacious work of our assistant principals, deputy principal, guidance counselors, truant officer, Assistant Superintendent  and our district court liaison tracking down students (and parents) and getting the students to school.
* Better data and more effective use of that data (due in large part to Infinite Campus).
* The ongoing work at Spaulding High School to provide students (particularly at-risk students) with better and more timely remediation (as needed), more opportunities to earn credits, and alternative
pathways to a high school diploma. 
And for the students who don’t make it to graduation (earning either an SHS diploma or a BCA diploma), we are continuing to do our very best to create viable and multiple opportunities for students to at least earn their GED.

11 thoughts on “Drop Out Update

  1. Smoke and mirrors…all the Rochester School district and the state Ed Dept did was lower standards to artificially reduce rates…this is, by no means, any kind off success honest people can accept…this is the result of WEAK liberal ideology having taken control of our kids education and the community of Rochester should be ashamed of itself for allowing this to happen…having said all this, I do believe that the Bud Carlson Academy has a place and a role for kids, but calling a diploma from there the same as one kids get from Spaulding is simply wrong…it’s simply a way for the administration and the school board to claim some sort of victory for themselves…welcome to the world of CYA and mediocrity!!!

  2. http://ftp.iza.org/dp3216.pdf

    “the true high school graduation rate is substantially lower than the official rate issued by the National Center for Educational Statistics; (b) it has been declining over the past 40 years; (c) majority/minority graduation rate differentials are substantial and have not converged over the past 35 years; (d) the decline in high school graduation rates occurs among native populations and is not solely a consequence of increasing proportions of immigrants and minorities in American society”

    Throughout the first half of the 20th century, each new cohort of Americans was more likely to graduate high school than the preceding one. This upward trend in secondary education increased worker productivity and fueled American economic growth (SeeGoldin and Katz [2003])

    Historic trends in high school graduation have also come under closer scrutiny. Inagreement with the earlier findings of Cameron and Heckman (1993), some scholars find that high
    school graduation rates peaked in the late 1960s and have since stagnated or fallen (See Chaplin [2002] and Miao and Haney [2004]).

    So how does Rochester respond to it’s dropout rate problem?…it lowers standards and claims “The absolutely tenacious work of our assistant principals, deputy principal, guidance counselors, truant officer, Assistant Superintendent and our district court liaison tracking down students (and parents) and getting the students to school.”…great job getting kids back to school and giving them a second chance…absolutely bad form not telling the whole truth and making people believe we actually improved education…

    Even the federal Dept of Education recognizes the need ot set high standards:

    Setting Expectations and Aligning Systems

    “States and districts need to set high standards for high schools that are clearly aligned with both elementary and postsecondary requirements. ” – http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ovae/pi/hs/index.html

    The Rochester School district needs to come clean and admit what it has done to make itself look good…

  3. Looking at the source document from iza.org is interesting. The issue is that the graduation rate, plus drop out rate doesn’t match the number of 17 year old students. There are many factors, but two in NH are the number of 17 year olds that take an extra year to graduate. The second factor is that until this year, a home schooled student did not have to report to anyone after the age of 16. They were not a drop out if they moved to home school, but were not accounted for after the age of 16. Some of the home education students moved on to college, met graduation requirements or did not graduate.

    New Hampshire has accounted for student movement within the State with a Statewide ID system. That wasn’t in place until three years ago. Previously, a District could report a 17 year old moved to another District. If that student didn’t show up to register, they weren’t counted as a drop out. Rochester did not do that. We factored in the request for student records, before they were counted as a transfer student. Many districts did not follow that standard.

    There is not a National Student ID system, so students can be coded by a school as transferring out of state, and they may not register in the new community.

  4. Quotes from a anonymous source within the school department:

    “After last year’s BCA graduation, I asked a Spaulding administrator if he knew these kids. He said he knew every one of them. I then asked him how many of them would have graduated from Spaulding. He paused and said ‘four.’…and then added ‘maybe’.”

    “Whether I like it or not, alternative schools are a necessary part of educational life, particularly in lower socio-economic areas. Some students just cannot cut it in a traditional high school.”

    Again, this clearly demonstrates that the only way the district can reduce the dropout rate is to lower the standards…and they want to use the socio-economic card to boot…this is shameful and as hard as members of the School Board try and make me sound like anything but concerned for real educational improvement, the more I’m motivated to make this my one and only focus…this is about what’s best for our kids, community and country…I don’t believe we should be taking short cuts just to shoe results on paper…

  5. http://ndpc-web.clemson.edu/modelprograms/show_program.php?pid=176

    Many schools serve at-risk students by remediating them, which often involves less challenging curricula and lowered expectations. Accelerated Schools take the opposite approach, they offer enriched curricula and instructional programs. Members of the school community work together to transform every classroom into a “powerful learning” environment where students and teachers work together to think creatively, explore their interests, and achieve at high levels.

  6. Learning to earn: more stringent high-school graduation requirements may reduce students’ chances of earning a diploma. But higher standards also improve their ability to find a job – Research


    “Placing students at increased risk of dropping out is one of the major objections that critics lodge against any kind of testing regime that imposes harsh penalties on students, The intent of these reforms is both to raise academic standards and to give students the incentives to meet them. But critics say that standards-based reforms may simply exacerbate existing inequalities if sanctions are applied to low-performing students without giving them the resources and help they need to succeed. Furthermore, standards could lower the achievement of high-performing students if they signal that learning for its own sake is not worthwhile.”

    “Economists Julian Betts and Robert Costrell have argued that students whose prior academic record provides a clear indication of how they will perform on the test (pass with flying colors or fail miserably) face little incentive to change their study habits. It is students at the margin who may feel most of the impact of a test- or curriculum-based sanction. Some will respond by redoubling their efforts to ensure that they pass the test or accumulate the proper number of credits in core academic subjects. Others may grow discouraged and eventually give up.”

    “So the marginal students who choose to work harder may benefit from higher testing and curricular standards, High standards, argues Cornell economist John Bishop, may also shield bright students from the harassment and peer pressure that often accompany excelling in academics (as opposed to, say, athletics). After all, if all students must meet a defined external standard, there may not be much glory in failing and being subject to a consequence as harsh as not graduating. High standards may also generate broader educational gains as schools, teachers, and students struggle to attain them. Even students who fully expect to drop out may expend more effort in the short term as they are forced to progress through a state-mandated set of core academic courses. Thus both dropouts and graduates may reap the rewards of higher standards, if the standards signal to employers that the average ability of all students has increased.”