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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Grad rates rise — achievement doesn’t

Graduation rates are rising in Minnesota, reports the MinnPost. But many high school graduates aren’t prepared for jobs or college, especially in Minneapolis and St. Paul, reports Erin Hinrichs.

Statewide, achievement declined in math and improved in reading, she writes. “For some student groups, proficiency rates have actually decreased at the same time that their graduation rates have increased.”

Beth Hawkins looks at the discouraging data.

Consider Minneapolis Public Schools’ Roosevelt High School, which sits solidly in the middle of its district in terms of socioeconomics. Between 2014 and 2016, its graduation rate rose from 58 percent to 75 percent. During the same time, reading proficiency — the number of 10th-graders who pass the 10th-grade reading exam — fell from 18 percent to 14 percent. Proficiency in math, assessed in 11th grade, fell from 18 percent to 12 percent. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Latino students graduating from Roosevelt nearly doubled, from 43 percent to 80 percent. The percentage passing state tests, meanwhile, has been nearly flat at 8 percent. The percentage hitting targets for academic growth started at 41 percent, fell to 14 percent in 2016, and rebounded to 25 percent last year.

The graduation rate rose to 90 percent at Southwest High, the district’s wealthiest, majority-white school, but it’s impossible to know whether achievement is improving, writes Hawkins. “Almost none of its students — egged on by many of their teachers — took the annual state assessment.”

Why so little outrage about graduation fraud in the District of Columbia, asks Erika Sanzi.

A city audit shows that more than one-third of the class of ’17 were granted diplomas only because “their teachers and administrators flouted attendance policies and misused credit-recovery programs,” she writes. Emails reveal the issue was reported to the chancellor’s office but “no action was taken.”

Some 937 young people received “phony diplomas,” writes RiShawn Biddle. Another 1,821 earned their diplomas, but their achievement will be tarnished by the fraud. Students “expect to graduate with the knowledge and skills needed for success in higher education and in the working world.” They were cheated.

WAMU/NPR, which broke the D.C. story, “has heard from teachers in Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Maryland, South Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, Wyoming, Ohio, and Pennsylvania,” says reporter Kate McGee. “It’s clear that schools everywhere are promoting and graduating underprepared and chronically absent students by pressuring teachers and using shortcuts.”

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