Dropout Factories

The Associated Press released a hot story this week, claiming that 1 in 10 US high schools is a "dropout factory."

Tonight though, WATE passes along the caveat that Roane County disputes the claim that Midway and Rockwood high schools are among those.  From WATE:

State data shows Midway High has an 80% retention rate, not 56% as the AP claims.

And the state says Rockwood High has a 75% retention rate while the AP claims the rate is 59%.

I would add that the state’s figures are often misleading as well — and not in the schools’ favor.  The "graduation rate" measures those students who graduate in four years plus a summer, but does not include those who receive a special education diploma, who take an extra semester to graduate (for any reason, including illness or serious injury), who get a GED, etc.  The "dropout rate" is a different number — not the difference between graduation rate and 100%.

Even so, some students are miscategorized as dropouts, when they aren’t.

To honestly address the problem, we must first honestly accept what the problem is, and what it is not.  To be constantly fighting a public relations battle simply takes time and focus away from the real issues.


4 Responses to “Dropout Factories”

  1. on 30 Oct 2007 at 10:05 pm Joel

    “To be constantly fighting a public relations battle simply takes time and focus away from the real issues.”

    Well put. This is why NCLB is wrong.

  2. on 31 Oct 2007 at 12:01 pm Jacket

    I find it odd that these two schools are mentioned. I am more inclined to believe Harriman H.S. would have been on the list. It is considered more a knife and gun school than these two schools. Midway, under Tony Clowers as principal was a very good school. He is a super guy and was a very good principal. He also had an Asst. Principal, Mike Hayes, that is top notch. As a matter of fact Hayes tells me that the test scores from last year were very good. This has to be skewed in so many ways.

  3. on 03 Nov 2007 at 9:15 pm Tom Hanson

    I reviewed the process used for labeling these schools dropout factories, the so-called “promotion factor,” at:

    There is clearly an issue with students dropping out but the phrase dropout factory appears to have been coined to sell papers. In my piece I also take great exception to those who think NCLB will solve this issue.

    Your readers may find the article of interest.

    Tom Hanson

  4. on 10 Nov 2007 at 4:15 pm Ellen Smith

    According to an article in the Roane County News, the statistics for Rockwood and Midway high schools that were cited in the Johns Hopkins study are vastly different from the statistics in the Tennessee Department of Education “report cards” for the schools.

    I have a feeling we haven’t heard the end of the story…

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