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Searching for an Accurate Student Dropout Estimate
Accurate dropout statistics are required to fight our dropout crisis, but in Texas, and most of the U.S., such statistics have been illusive. Single digit dropout numbers are common misleading claims made by too many schools. The audiences who hear such numbers rarely, if ever, understand them. Reality is too often closer to what happened to the class of 2008 in DISD. Only 6,102 diplomas were handed out to a class that as 9th graders in 2004-2005 had 14,890 students in their class. That means that 8,788 from that 9th grade class were "missing at graduation." That means 59% did not graduate from DISD with their class.
The most solid foundation for an accurate dropout reporting system is a student enrollment by grade spreadsheet covering many years:
|Student enrollment numbers by grade, & diplomas given annually, during 14 academic years in Dallas ISD: 1996-1997 to 2009-2010||Average change from previous grade since 1996-97|
||1996-97||1997-98||1998-99||1999-00||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07||2007-08||2008-09||2009-2010||14 yr Avg|
|Percent of last yrs 9th grade in 10th||59.7%||59.6%||60.6%||64.1%||66.2%||64.7%||63.3%||63.3%||66.0%||64.3%||67.9%||69.9%||75.4%||65.0%||
|9th to 12th grade Promotion Rate||42.26%||39.88%||42.51%||44.78%||47.62%||47.13%||47.26%||48.05%||48.24%||50.23%||54.51%||46.59%||
||1996-97||1997-98||1998-99||1999-00||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07||2007-08||2008-09||2009-10||11 yr Avg||
||The CPI (Cumulative Promotion Index), below, is a measurement of student attrition, within one given school year, adding up 4 transitions to the next school year or graduation: 9th/10th, 10th/11th, 11th/12th and 12th/graduation.||
|CPI rate calculation||39.2%||37.1%||38.8%||43.3%||48.3%||46.8%||48.0%||45.4%||51.0%||40.7%||42.8%||46.6%||54.0%||
||9th grade Cohort Graduation Rate, below, reports student attrition over the previous 4 high school years for one graduating 9th grade class, and the percentage of that 9th grade class actually graduating in 4 years.||
|9th grade Cohort Graduation Rate for this year's graduating class||41.5%||40.3%||44.0%||46.4%||48.6%||45.3%||41.4%||40.5%||41.0%||43.5%||
||1996-97||1997-98||1998-99||1999-00||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07||2007-08||2008-09||2009-10||11 yr Avg||
|Most data is from http://www.tea.state.tx.us/adhocrpt/Standard_Reports.html||
To help check the
data and formulas used in the above spreadsheet, updated 11-25-09,
is a link to an Excel copy. The updates made on 11-25-09 were made with
current 2009-2010 enrollment data uploaded by DISD the morning of 11-20-09 to
the www.dallasisd.org web site.
(This was three weeks after the normal "official annual enrollment" was drawn
that is sent to TEA as the annual count. There was a difference of about 20
students in the total count so this data is about 99.99% accurate to the final
numbers that will be uploaded to the TEA site.) This data was then downloaded to update this spreadsheet, and others on these
pages, from the
https://portal.dallasisd.org/mydata/ web address by going to the "Current
enrollment statistics" link found there.
A second updated spreadsheet, with information on each of the 21 DISD High Schools designated as "Dropout Factories" in 2007, can be uploaded here.
The above spreadsheet was neither an official Dallas ISD, nor TEA, compilation of the data.
It is recommended that spreadsheets like those above be placed on every school district web site both for the district and for each school. Simple enrollment counts by grade are all that is needed. They are easier to check and verify. In Texas the information needed, except for graduation numbers by school, can be pulled from the Texas Education Agency web site at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/adhocrpt/Standard_Reports.html. This has been done with enrollment numbers from 21 Dallas ISD high schools. A positive pattern of progress since 1999 is shown. See www.studentmotivation.org/dallasisd.
With this data the following four calculations were made for each class for which data was available. (See the data outlined in red in the spreadsheet above.)
The Percentage of last years 9th grade enrolled in 10th is critical for predicting final dropout rates.
The 9th to 12th grade Promotion Rate was the rate used in the 2007 John Hopkins University "Dropout Factory" Study. Any school with a three year average below 61% was given the "Dropout Factory" title. All 21 DISD non-magnet high schools qualified based on data from the classes of 2004, 2005, & 2006.
The Percentage of 9th grade enrollment who graduated with their class (9th Grade Cohort Graduation Rate) is to become the nationally used measurement.
While the 9th Grade Cohort Graduation Rate reflects attrition for each graduating class spread out over their 4 years in high school and the four transitions they go through, the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) reports on the same 4 necessary transitions toward graduation (9th to 10th, 10th to 11th, 11th to 12th, & 12th to graduation) but concentrates them all in one scholastic year. The CPI is therefore a more timely reflection of what is happening in any given scholastic year in a school or school district due to changes made.
The above chart shows the progress DISD has made over the past 4 years in starting to lower our high school dropout rate. The percentage of 9th grade enrollment who graduate with their class, and are reflected in the number of diplomas given out, should go above 50% with the graduation for the Class of 2011, if not the Class of 2010!
The above enrollment numbers amount to a 9th grade cohort graduation rate from 1997-2007 of about 43.8% for Dallas ISD.
In 2007 a student dropout study was released by The Center for Social Organization of Schools at John Hopkins University. It showed that one out of every 10 high schools in the US was a "dropout factory" with less than 60% of freshmen still enrolled senior year with their classmates in the graduating classes of 2004, 2005, and 2006. Sadly all 21 of the Dallas ISD non-magnet high schools made this "dropout factory" list! A report on those 21 Dallas ISD schools is linked here. The complete list of all 1,700 schools designated as "dropout factories" is also online at http://web.jhu.edu/CSOS/images/ListofSchoolswithaWeakThreeYearAveragePromotingPowerRatio.pdf. The above Dallas ISD student enrollment spreadsheet reinforces this tragic listing of all Dallas ISD high schools. It shows the same statistics with only a 2% difference in calculations for the 56.2% of ninth graders who do not graduate with their classmates according to the above Dallas ISD spread sheet.
All Texas Schools
Enrollment numbers for all the state of Texas, seen in the spreadsheet below, show a statewide 9th grade cohort graduation rate average of only 64.9% for the graduation classes of 2001-2007. This statistic is verified by several studies including Texas School Holding Power Worse than Two Decades Ago published in 2007 by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) which is described on their web site as "an independent, private non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening public schools to work for all children."
The following spreadsheet is very similar to the above spreadsheet on Dallas ISD data except that it covers the entire state of Texas.
|11 yr Avg|
The bar chart above was created from the annual enrollment averages above taken from the spreadsheet below for all students in Texas for the academic years from 1997-1998 to 2007-2008. To help check the calculations in this spreadsheet, or to do other calculations, here is a link to an Excel copy of the spreadsheet below.
|Student enrollment numbers by grade & diplomas given annually for 11 academic years in all of Texas: 1997-1998 to 2007-2008||Average enrollment change 1996-07 from previous grade/row above|
|Updated 5-24-08||1997-98||1998-99||1999-00||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07||2007-08||11 yr Avg|
|Percent of last yrs 9th grade in 10th||78.5%||78.5%||80.0%||81.0%||82.2%||83.0%||82.9%||84.2%||83.2%||83.8%||81.7%|
|1997-98||1998-99||1999-00||2000-01||2001-02||2002-03||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06||2006-07||2007-08||11 yr Avg|
|9th grade Cohort Graduation Rate||61.9%||64.2%||66.2%||67.7%||65.8%||64.6%||64.3%||n/a||64.9%||
|Above data is from Texas Education Agency web site at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/adhocrpt/Standard_Reports.html.|
|These enrollment numbers above are all taken from the Texas Education Agency web site that is linked above. Below are dropout rate calculations taken from these numbers which do not allow for transfers out of DISD, transfers into DISD, nor other valid student movements. See an Excel copy of this spreadsheet, linked above, that allows study of these calculations made with the TEA numbers.|
|The Dropout Rate calculated as the percent of the original 9th grade enrollment missing at graduation:|
|Percent missing from 9th grade enrollment for each graduating class: The Dropout Rate||38.1%||35.8%||33.8%||32.3%||34.2%||35.4%||35.7%||n/a||35.1%||
To help check the calculations in the above spreadsheet covering all the students in Texas here is a link to an Excel copy.
The above student enrollment spreadsheets give an image of student movement over time that cannot be ignored. It also cannot be as easily manipulated as current "student tracking systems" for which taxpayers are investing millions of dollars. It presents a generally much more accurate indication of the true dropout picture within any school district at next to no cost. The only exception to this accuracy is if there are great population fluctuations in excess of 3% in any year. The green cells at the bottom of the spreadsheets have the 9th grade cohort graduation rate which the nation is moving to accept as the standard dropout rate definition. These numbers taken from simple enrollment numbers do NOT allow for the tracking of students. This weakness must be remembered for this method of looking at the dropout picture, especially in a school district with annual student enrollment fluctuations close to, or over, 3%.
The historical chart to the left is the history of the Texas dropout rate, updated in 1999, and covering the decade up to the first year in the above spreadsheet. According to this chart by TEA, the dropout rate in Texas had been cut to much less than 1/3 of what it had been in 1988 by 1998. There are many questions in the search for accurate data as to what data was actually used to create this chart, copied to the left, in 1999. This chart and the record keeping on dropout rates in Texas is presented and discussed by Professor Walt Haley of Boston College in The Myth of the Texas Miracle in Education, Part 7, published in 2000, all of which is published online.
The Dallas ISD class of 2006 had 15,314 students in the 9th grade, in 2002/2003. During the next 4 years Dallas ISD reported 11% of the class, or 1,693 students, dropped out. In 2006 diplomas were given to 6,343 students, about 41.4% of the original 9th grade class. That leaves 7,278 students, or 47.5% of the original 9th grade class for the class of 2006, who are in other than graduate or dropout categories. In 2006 DISD staff were still speaking of dropout rates below 2%. It appears that some of the issues Professor Haley discussed in The Myth of the Texas Miracle in Education were still normal practice in Dallas. Until basic enrollment by grade spreadsheets like the one above are available on every school district web site, the public will have no way to know the truth of the situation when district staff speak about dropout rates.
We must have a more transparent and accurate accounting for our students. The truth of numbers coming from our multi-million dollar student tracking systems must be verifiable through other numbers and systems easily available to the public. Do the numbers add up?
Here again are links to Excel copies of the above spreadsheets on Dallas ISD as well as the entire state of Texas for additional work you may want to do with these numbers. Any notice of errors is especially welcomed. Please email information on any errors noted on these pages to Bill Betzen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Accuracy is critical!
The above graph is an illustration of the relation of the number of enrolled seniors in Dallas ISD and the number of diplomas reported as granted to that class. It is correct that for the years 2001 through 2004 there were more diplomas granted than there were seniors reported as enrolled. Since then there has been a rapid drop in the percentage of seniors who have received diplomas.
Progress retaining students is documented
and the Archive Project is spreading.
An over 26% reduction in the dropout rate between the 9th and 10th grade was achieved since 2005. This happened at the two major high schools receiving Archive Project students and is based on current enrollment numbers as of the end of September, 2008 as provided by staff at each school.
Most dropouts never enroll in the 10th grade. In Dallas ISD only an average of 64% of 9th graders make it successfully to the 10th grade. In the two high schools attended by most Archive Project students, two of the higher dropout rate high schools in Dallas ISD, the percentage of 9th graders enrolling in the 10th grade had averaged only 60.9% for the four years before the Archive Project started. In the four years since 2005, the percentage of 9th graders making it to enroll in the 10th grade has risen from 60.9% for the four years before 2005-2006 to 71.9% for the 2008-2009 school year at Pinkston and Sunset high schools in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. That also means that the 9th to 10th grade dropout/attrition rate has gone down over 26%! It went from a loss of 39.6% of 9th graders down to a loss of 28.1% in 2008-2009 for both high schools combined!
The causes for this dramatic improvement needs to be verified. Indications are that the School Archive Project is probably the most significant factor in this progress.
Ninth grade enrollments are normally inflated in most Texas high schools due to retention and students stuck in the 9th grade, taking 9th grade two or more times. (See the 11 year Texas enrollment chart and the 11 year Dallas ISD enrollment chart for illustration.) This factor, combined with the dropout rate, leads to a significant enrollment number decrease from 9th to 10th grade. From 1998 to 2008 an average of only 81.7% of 9th graders in Texas made this promotion with their class successfully. In Dallas from 1998 to 2008 only 64% of Dallas ISD 9th graders made this promotion with their class successfully.
The average 9th to 10 grade promotion rate at Pinkston and Sunset high schools has now grown from an average of 60.9% (2001 to 2005) to 71.9% in 2008-2009. These are the high schools attended by the majority of Archive Project students who make up about 40% of the enrollment at these two high schools. (The spreadsheet with annual numbers upon which these figures and calculations are made is linked here. An Excel format copy of that same spreadsheet is linked here so the numbers may be manipulated and more easily verified.)
Sunset and Pinkston were two of the higher dropout rate high schools in Dallas ISD. Of the 41 high schools in Dallas ISD, according the Dropout Factory listing by John Hopkins University, for the graduation classes of 2004 through 2006 there were only 8 Dallas ISD high schools with dropout rates higher than Sunset, and only three with dropout rates higher than Pinkston. If this lowering of dropout rates continues, then Pinkston and Sunset will be among the Dallas ISD schools with the highest graduation rates and lowest dropout rates by 2010!
If this improvement can be verified as being affected by, or resulting mostly due to that percentage of students who are from Quintanilla, then we have more evidence that the Archive Project is having a even more positive effect on the lowering of the dropout rate.
The chart below clearly shows how the 9th grade enrollment is decreasing as more students pass on to the 10th grade without failing the 9th grade. Then, each year, the 10th, 11th, and 12th grade enrollments are going up at each of these high schools as their dropout rates fall!
Something good is definitely happening at Sunset and Pinkston! They are well on their way toward achieving, and exceeding, a 50% graduation rate, a goal all of Dallas ISD must achieve. This improvement by two of the formerly worst dropout rate high schools in Dallas ISD, now on their way to having among the best graduation rates in Dallas ISD, is progress to be celebrated, researched, and expanded. (As this is written, staff at Sunset are considering a modification of the Archive Project so that a similar project can be started at Sunset High School. They would have a school archive installed for letters written by seniors just before graduation. The focus on goals would continue!)
All enrollment numbers on these pages, unless otherwise noted, are from the TEA web site at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/adhocrpt/Standard_Reports.html.
A compilation of the last decades enrollment numbers for the Arlington ISD is attached here.
Please send questions or concerns about
anything on these pages, especially errors seen, to Bill Betzen at
Page last updated 12/25/2009 09:17 AM
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