We have written several times in the last month (here, here, here and here) about a recent report from Johns Hopkins University titled “For All Kids, How Kentucky is Closing the High School Graduation Gap for Low-Income Students.”
It appears Hopkins is starting to listen – a little. After Hopkins and GradNation ran a webinar about the report yesterday, I accessed the report online again and found that an entire paragraph I raised issues about is now removed from Page 16. That paragraph unfairly and inaccurately characterized low-income student graduation rates in the Beechwood and Burgin independent school districts. Hopkins also made some changes to the way graduation data is reported in some of its tables.
However, the revised/corrected/updated report doesn’t seem to have any notice that it has been altered. That, at the very least, seems unusual.
Also, no one mentioned that the report had been altered in the webinar yesterday, and no one apologized to the school districts during the webinar. A question I asked during the audience participation period about the situation was not read, either.
So, we are getting a little improvement, but much remains problematic with this report, especially the basic assumption that diplomas awarded in different states represent similar levels of educational achievement. I seriously doubt that assumption is accurate for the nation, but I have put together very compelling evidence that just here in Kentucky there are no quality control standards from school district to school district as to what passes muster to get a diploma.
Thus, the basic underpinning for the Hopkins report remains in as much doubt as ever. There has been no defense from Hopkins that I have seen or heard regarding this very big stretch they are making that all diplomas are equal and that the conclusions they have derived from that questionable assumption are valid.
One more thing; during the webinar they showed a slide titled “Top-15 Districts with the highest percentage of non-grads, 2013-14.” That certainly sounds like slide where you don’t want to see your school district listed.
To my surprise, some pretty high performing districts like Boone County, Kenton County, Jessamine County and Warren County showed on this slide.
A careful examination of this slide showed that the percentages listed were not essentially dropout rates for each district. Instead, the slide showed the percentage contribution each district was making to the overall statewide non-graduate count. Since all of the districts have high enrollment, it is no surprise that they contribute more to the overall non-graduate total, but that doesn’t mean the districts are doing a bad job. However, that is what the very poorly chosen title of this slide implies.
So, if they ever get around to apologizing to Beechwood and Burgin, the Hopkins crowd now needs to smooth some feathers in most of our largest school districts that got highlighted, not for really bad performance, but just because they are large.
By the way, regarding Kentucky’s major problem with diploma quality control, we’ve written a lot. Hit the “Read more” link to see the listing.
Here are some blogs and articles of interest regarding Kentucky’s uneven diploma quality: