Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Graduation improves, mysteries continue

The Kentucky Department of Education released 2008 nonacademic data today, including graduation information. I think I see good news. More Kentucky students are making it from eighth grade testing to high school graduation.

That's based on taking the number of diplomas awarded and dividing by the number of students who took our eighth-grade test four years earlier. In 2004, the diplomas were 78.7% of the test-takers. In 2008, they were 80.8%. Here are the year-by-year details.

Comparisons to eighth grade also highlights our enduring difficulty tracking students. Adding up the diplomas, certificates, and the numbers who dropped out in each year of high school does not explain where all the eighth-graders went. The "unknown" column above represents students who go missing in some other way. Because I know a group of kids seem to end up "lost or stolen or strayed" in every class, I'm not inclined to put much weight on the state's official calculations of graduation and dropout rates.

I am, however, willing to put some trust in a basic comparison of students tested to students collecting their diplomas, and I think those results do show Kentucky making some progress on an enduring problem over the last four years.

Note: the percentages above are based on the numbers below, and those numbers, in turn, come from files that can be downloaded here and here. The Milne bit can be found in context here.

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Updates and data on Kentucky education!