Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is Texas's Dropout Rate Progress slowing down?

This morning there was a wonderfully positive article in the New York Times titled "Texas's Dropout Rate shows Positive Signs."   It is regretful that this article was not printed over a year sooner when the data was becoming obvious that significant progress was being made improving the Texas Graduation Rate.   What is important is that now Texas has in the national media an article that we can authentically celebrate!

But for how long? There are beginning to appear faint indications in the data that the progress may be slowing down.  This graph is one indication:
Texas Graduation Rate Improvement measured by Cumulative Promotion Index, 2007-2011
(Right click on above image and select "open link" to enlarge and/or print.) 

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the measurement used in many nationwide studies of graduaton rates including the Diplomas Count annual report on our nation's high school graduation rates.  It is the only graduation rate measurement that both counts movement by all four years in high school and only uses the current year's data in the calculation. The others use data from three previous years as well as the current year. Thus the CPI is the most current and the most predictive measurement. The fact that the rate of improvement for the CPI is now going down in Texas is reason for concern. The previous two years had improvements of  6 and 3.5 percentage points in the CPI in Texas. Then in 2011 Texas only saw an improvement of 7/10ths of one percent.

Below is a graph using three measurements that were recommended to be used in March of 2011 as a "Report Card" from 2012 to 2016 on the 2011 Texas Legislature. It is virtually certain that the $5.4 billion cut in education will negatively affect the progress Texas has been enjoying since 2006.  It appears we are beginning to see that change start.  The most predictive of these three measurements, the Cumulative Promotion Index, has a rate of improvement that has dropped dramatically.
Texas Graduation Rate Progress 2006 to 2011
(Right-click on the above image and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
The above graph comes from the data since 2006 in the spreadsheet below.
Texas Schools Enrollment By Grade 1997 to 2012
(Right-click on spreadsheet and hit "open link" to enlarge and/or print.)
This data clearly documents the progress in Texas using three common graduation rate measurements.  These are different from the Texas Education Agency measurement, but both this data and the TEA data document the same progress.  The Cumulative Promotion Index, the only measurement that uses only the current years data in the calculation, is also the only measurement currently indicating a reason for concern. 

We must see more of an improvement in the CPI for 2012. If not, this may be the start of seeing more statewide statistics reflecting deteriorating academic achievement due to the $5.4 billion in education cuts made by the 2011 Texas Legislature.

8-11-12 Footnote: It is now being written about in multiple news stories that 48% of Texas schools have failed to meet the federal AYP standard.