High School Performance Results Show Progress in the City

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Dr. Andres Alonso reported to the school community yesterday improvements in high school drop out rates and other measures of success for city high schoolers.  That’s good news for all Baltimoreans.  See below the email the CEO of schools sent yesterday afternoon. We have also linked at the end of the story to the city schools’ press release and PowerPoint presentation.

Dear City Schools Colleagues, Staff, Partners and Friends,

Today our focus and absolute priority in Baltimore City Public Schools has been on finalizing preparations to re-open our 204 schools and programs tomorrow, Thursday, November 1, following extensive damage by Superstorm Sandy.

But we also have some very big news to share. Today marks our annual release of high school performance results, and the news for City Schools is very good. The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is reporting official results for the state and its districts using a new measure: 2008 Cohort graduation and dropout rates that show how students who entered high school in 2007-08 fared after four and five years—how many graduated, how many were still enrolled and working toward a diploma, and how many dropped out. MSDE’s traditional method of gauging high school success—graduation and dropout rates that reflect the number of students who received diplomas or dropped out in a given year—is no longer in use.

The new cohort measures show a compelling picture of high school progress for City Schools.

· Graduation rate is up and at an all-time high: The 2008 Cohort 4-year graduation rate is 65.8 percent, up from 61.5 percent for the 2007 Cohort; the 2008 Cohort 5-year graduation rate is 70.6 percent, up from 66.7 percent for the 2007 Cohort.

· City Schools’ drop-out rate decreased by 30 percent from the 2007 Cohort to the 2008 Cohort: Nearly one-third fewer 2008 Cohort students dropped out of high school over four years than 2007 Cohort students, 1,065 students compared to 1,530. The main driver of this decline was the decrease in dropouts that occurred in grades 9 and 10, underscoring that the district is holding on to more students during the difficult middle-to-high school transition years.

· More time in school matters: Of those 2008 Cohort students who were never chronically absent in high school (meaning they did not miss 20 days or more in a given year), 87.4 percent graduated from high school after four years. The 5-year graduation rate was 89.6 percent and the dropout rate was 7.7 percent. This is a big difference when looking at the graduation rates of students who were chronically absent at least once in high school. Of those students, fewer than 60 percent graduated in 4 years or 5 years (53 percent and 59.7 percent, respectively). Also, for the chronically absent students, the dropout rate was three times higher at 23.1 percent.

· Focus on college and career ready: Too few students are sufficiently prepared for career and college. As such, City Schools is developing a clearer, more rigorous literacy program and conducting more targeted and earlier career and college counseling with students. City Schools guidance counselors are educating students on the importance of college prep courses and exams and creating earlier student access to SAT prep and opportunities to take the Accuplacer.

This year’s high school results show continued progress for City Schools students on the two most telling achievement measures: more students are graduating high school and fewer are dropping out. This continued growth in graduation has profound implications for City Schools students and for the city as a whole. At the same time, too many students are either dropping out, not graduating or not sufficiently prepared for career and college.

For more detail, I would ask that you please read today’s press release and view the PowerPoint presentation I shared with media this afternoon.

Thank you for all that you do for our students and our schools.
Andrés A. Alonso, Ed.D.
CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools

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