The key in the graduation rate conversation is to make every student count — every year. Traditional accountability typically measures three indices, but unfortunately, we’re not measuring what matters (buzz-phrase). Most noticeably the traditional accountability method is not measuring student engagement at all. Shouldn’t we want to verify that the student is actively participating in the best educational environment for his/her specific situation?
Academic growth has been measured historically by looking at the standardized tests and verifying proficiency — another No Child Left Behind(NCLB) buzzword. Wouldn’t we want to personalize this to be more effective? How about we measure if a student is actually growing at a school? Wouldn’t an effective measure of growth be to determine if a student is narrowing the gap from last year to this year? If a student knows more today than last year, the student has grown academically. The key here is to stop comparing students to other students and start comparing them to their past performance. Still confused when talking about Growth and Proficiency? Check out this quick explanation.
Next, we have to look at graduation readiness. The current model focuses on the cohort calculations and will definitely shed a negative light on schools that enroll as at-risk and credit-deficient students. Let’s stop looking at this over the course of a four-year cohort and start asking, “What did this student do during the last school year?” Looking at this annually can catch additional student situations where the student started behind, but for the first time, the student earned sufficient credits over the course of the year. We should track how each student performed, each year and then grade the school accordingly.