Friday, July 13, 2012

How DISD graduation rate could go up while loosing more students

Graduation rates are calculated following student loss in high school.  DISD has been making so much progress improving their graduation rate that now the major loss appears to be moving from the critical 9th to 10th grade transition to the increasingly critical 5th to 6th grade transition.
Dallas ISD 5th and 9th grade student enrollment making successful transition to next grade since 1998
(Right-click on above image then click "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)

The blue line in the above chart, representing student loss from 5th to 6th grade, started going down as DISD middle schools began expanding to include the 6th grade. The word-of-mouth reputation of middle schools continued to deteriorate leading to the attrition rate between 5thand 6thgrade increasing significantly in recent years. That attrition rate went from an average of 2.3% prior to 2003 to an average over 11.3% the past two years. See the graph and spreadsheet above.  It is reasonable to project that this loss of students will increase this year with the removal of the final 6th grade students from elementary schools and their placement in middle school.

The second line above, the red line, demonstrates the continuing improvement of ever greater percentages of the 9th grade going on to the10th grade.  Historically most DISD dropouts had never made it to 10th grade in the past.  That is no longer true.  Now the much smaller number of DISD students who continue to drop out do it after making it into the 10th grade.

From 2007 to 2011 the DISD graduation rate improved according to every graduation rate measurement. This progress happened, and is now set up to continue, due to wonderful progress made eliminating the 9th grade bulge and increasing the percentage of 9th graders who make it to the 10th grade. Below is the spreadsheet that created the above graph and demonstrates these graduation rate improvements
Dallas ISD Enrollment 1996-2012 demonstrating attrition and graduation rate improvements
(Right click above spreadsheet and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
The above chart and spreadsheet both demonstrate the improvement with 9th to 10th grade transfers and the deterioration of the transfer percentages from 5th to 6th grade. If these patterns continue, the 5th to 6th grade transfer will replace the 9th to 10th grade transfer as the one loosing the most students in Dallas ISD.

While all graduation rates are calculated using students movement after middle school, the largest and most consistently growing losses within DISD are now happening before middle school. 

Another chart tracking these losses between 5th, 6th, 7th ,and 8th grade can be seen at .  It clearly shows how the 5th to 6th grade transition moved to become the transition when most students, over 1,200 each year, are now being lost in DISD.