ERIC Number: ED391244
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1996-Jan
School Dropout Rates: Are We Sure They Are Going Down?
The U.S. Department of Education and various education commentators maintain that dropout rates have been decreasing for African-Americans and the school population as a whole. This paper presents evidence that dropout rates may be going up rather than down and identifies reasons for the conflicting data. The reasons include varied definitions of "dropping out," inaccurate reporting, and nonstandardized reporting procedures. Districts do a poor job of tracking students because of embarrassment, unrealistic accountability standards, and the tendency to overlook marginal students. Improved data-collection techniques are important because they help to assess the effect of increased resources, to compare school districts' performance, and to identify crisis communities. In addition, African-American students are probably most harmed by inaccurate dropout information. A single, understandable, and reliable indicator of student attrition is needed. A good start, although based on state self-reporting, is National Center on Educational Statistics (NCES) dropout data, which could be supplemented by the Annie E. Casey Foundation's method for reporting graduation rates by states. The recommendation is made for annual district reports on the percentage of ninth-graders who graduate on time. (Contains 27 references.) (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA, January 25-27, 1996).