Monday, August 07, 2006

It's an epidemic

Sunday's Tennessean had series of articles regarding dropouts. They interviewed several and what jumped out at me was the abysmal advice and service MNPS provided these people when they were students.

"Mom took me to High School to see about me getting in school there, but they said I couldn't start because I didn't have a transcript,… We kept going back and forth for two months, and we could never get it straightened out.'' Simone Moore

She couldn’t even start? OK, maybe she couldn’t get her diploma until after the paperwork was cleaned up but not even be allowed to attend classes? Add her to the graduation rate body count of 40 charged to the counselors at Maplewood.

“Bryant eventually dropped out of summer school, but when she returned to Glencliff that fall, she said school officials wanted her to take AP English 4, Honors History and a few other courses. "I was going for an honors diploma, and I thought the AP English course would be too much for me because I was working full-time,'' she said. "School officials told me that I had to take that course, and I ended up flunking it with a 68. "I had no vehicle, and they wanted me to take a credit recovery class after school three hours a day for three days a week, but I had to be a work at 5 p.m. in MetroCenter.” Elizabeth Bryant

"While Seivers and Johnson wouldn't call the dropout problem in Metro or statewide an epidemic,..."

Despite what Sandy Johnson & Lana Seivers think, and yes I know they're the paid professionals, a 20% dropout rate and worse is an epidemic and it must be stopped. Perhaps the real problem is that they're allowed excuses like this without losing their jobs.

"Yes, we have a problem,'' Sandy Johnson, chief instructional officer for Metro schools, said in an interview. "I think a lot depends on how the graduation rate is calculated.
So intead of focusing on educating the children and doing whatever it takes to help them stay on task we're going to work the numbers? The answer has been yes and I'll try and get Dr. Garcia's proposed 'new and improved' grad rate formula posted here.

UPDATE: Here are the 2005 graduation rates for MNPS high schools--

From the bottom:
Maplewood 41.2
Pearl Cohn Magnet 48.2
Stratford 50
Glencliff 51.4
Whites Creek 53.7
McGavock 54.2
Hillwood 60.8
Antioch 63.4
Hunters Lane 66.9
John Overton 67.1
Nashville Arts Magnet 88.5
East Literature Magnet 97.3
Hume Fogg Magnet 99
MLK Magnet 99.4


Anonymous said...

Summer school is a complete waste of time and needs to be revamped big time.

But here's another suggestion: we've got assistant principals who are generally assigned students and deal with discipline issues for those students and we've got guidance counselors who deal with academic issues for students- these two roles are often too isolated- not always but too often. A better effort needs to be made to combine these two things- behavior and academic success. Sometimes, unfortunately, they are treated as isolated things; they most often are not isolated things, and failure in either area can lead to problems in the other, this spirals, and the student is much more likely to give up. Again, combine the efforts so that the student can better see that how he/she behaves and uses time is quite connected to academic success.

Kay Brooks said...

Really good points, Anon. They are not isolatd. And while I think counseling isn't part of our core mission I'm convinced that we can't accomplish it without excellent counselors. And they ought to be assigned by need, not population.

Anonymous said...

question;How do these rates compare with other metropolitan areas of similiar socio-economic status.Is the amount spent per pupil a factor.Is the minimum educational requirements of the teachers a factor.The rates,standing on their own seem to be low,but knowing what I do about "stats" and the situation,there must be other factors that have an influence.
I am not making excuses,this is an area that must be improved,but to appreciate the impact of the "stats",all must be understood.

Anonymous said...

And does the difficulty of the standardized testing program make a difference? Since the high school tests in Tennessee have been dumbed down since 2002, has that made fewer students fdrop out or more?

Hillsboro's not on the list.