June 21, 2006
Only 67% of eligible Texans graduated in '03, study says
Education Week report contradicts TEA's 83% claim
By JENNIFER RADCLIFFE
Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle
Only two-thirds of Texas' eligible students earned a high school diploma in
2002-03, 16 percentage points lower than the 83 percent graduation rate
touted by the Texas Education Agency that year, according to a study
released Tuesday by Education Week magazine.
Like much of the dispute over dropout and graduation rates, discrepancies
arise because of the different formulas used to calculate the percentage.
Each state counts and tracks students differently; this report uses numbers
from the U.S. Department of Education and uses a "cumulative promotion
index," which estimates the probability that a ninth-grader will earn a
standard diploma in four years.
According to the study, Texas' graduation rate of 67 percent lagged just
behind the national average of 70 percent.
Texas students are 20 percent more likely to live in poverty and 60 percent
more likely to be English-language learners than national averages,
according to the report.
The study, Diplomas Count, shows that 1.2 million U.S. students failed to
graduate with their classmates in 2006.
"This is a virtually universal thing we're seeing here," said Christopher
Swanson, director of editorial projects at the Education Research Center.
Most dropouts leave school in the ninth grade, including 40 percent of
dropouts in low-income districts including Houston, officials said.
Texas measured up well in other standards.
The state requires students to earn 22 credits to graduate, slightly higher
than the national average.
It's one of 23 states that requires student to pass an exit-exam to
graduate, and Texas also requires students to attend school until they're
18, a year longer than the national average.