The foundation offers a number of strategic foci, including promoting supportive relationships with adults, early intervention, and and an emphasis on marketable skills. The Alliance also has a public-policy wing called First Focus.
Interestingly, this study does not rely on notoriously unreliable graduation rate statistics; instead, it uses enrollment data to calculate the chances the average 9th grader has of earning a diploma. Link to study summary (PDF)
The CPI has several apparent advantages over other means of determining dropout rates:
- It does not rely on wildly varying district dropout data (for example, some districts only count a dropout if the student fills out a form expressing his or her intent to drop out, and does not count the student as a dropout if they simply stop attending)
- It accounts for changes in the enrollment of the district, so it’s more accurate than simply dividing the number of diplomas issued by the number of enrolled 9th graders
- It incorporates data from each stage of advancement in a high schooler’s career, from 9th to 10th to 11th to 12th to graduation
The data are sobering: barely half of students in core urban districts graduate, while their suburban peers graduate at much higher rates – approaching double in some cases.
The report concludes:
If three out of every 10 students in the nation failing to graduate is reason for concern, then the fact that just half
of those educated in America’s largest cities are finishing high school truly raises cause for alarm. And the much
higher rates of high school completion among their suburban counterparts – who may literally live and attend
school right around the corner – place in a particularly harsh and unflattering light the deep undercurrents of
inequity that plague American public education. (PDF)
Indeed. If ever we needed a reminder of the seriousness of the challenges we face in urban education, the time is now, and this is the data we need.