by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) - The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) released a report of state high school graduation rates, which for the first time includes apples-to-apples comparisons among most states. Each state used to determine its own graduation rate; now states are moving toward a common method of measurement.
As Schools of Thought reported earlier, graduation rates for some states have dropped not because students are failing more often, but because the math has changed. The USDOE points this out in a press release on its website: "While 26 states reported lower graduation rates and 24 states reported unchanged or increased rates under the new metric, these changes should not be viewed as measures of progress but rather as a more accurate snapshot." The new data is based on a "four year cohort graduation rate," which also accounts for students who drop out or do not earn a regular high school diploma.
Read "The new graduation rates" for an explanation of these metrics.
In the video, Brooke Baldwin examines the states with the highest and lowest gradation rates. Across the United States, the range of state graduation rates is between Nevada's 62% and Iowa's 88%. The District of Columbia's rate is lower than that of any state, at 59%. Some states, including Kentucky and Idaho, are not using the new method and were not included in the data released by USDOE.
Looking at the data itself another picture emerges – a gap between whites and blacks still exists, but an even wider gap persists between general graduation rates and the graduation rates of children with disabilities and limited English proficiency students. For these subgroups, graduation rates in many states are below 50%, and sometimes even below 30%.
by Sydney Morris and Evan Stone, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Sydney Morris and Evan Stone are co-founders and co-CEOs of Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization that seeks to ensure that teachers’ voices are meaningfully included in the policy decisions that affect their classrooms and careers.
School and union leaders in the nation’s largest school districts who are waging epic battles over teacher evaluation, compensation and the future of the teaching profession could learn a lesson from their colleagues in Newark, New Jersey. That’s where the city’s 3,300 teachers recently ratified a groundbreaking new contract that provides them unprecedented support and compensation.
The issues on the table in this negotiation were similar to those being debated in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and elsewhere: How should teachers be evaluated? Who should evaluate them? How should the district use the evaluations to hire and promote educators and dismiss those who underperform? How should teachers be paid and how much?
But instead of the paralysis that has marked those other negotiations, Newark leaders were able to rationally discuss these points without the bluster and polarization we’ve seen elsewhere. They found a way to blend their demands in a way that will truly elevate the teaching profession. The two sides agreed to:
• A comprehensive evaluation system based on multiple measures including student growth, observations and peer reviews. Teachers will receive one of four rankings from highly effective to ineffective. Superintendent Cami Anderson was vocal about the need for more effective evaluation, while NTU President Joe Del Grosso won peer reviews as a way to give the voices of teachers more weight in their colleagues’ ratings.