Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bill to raise minimum dropout age advances, slowly

WAVE-3 reports that House Bill 301, which will raise the minimum high school dropout age in Kentucky, passed the Kentucky Senate Education Committee today, but not until it was amended to delay implementation of the higher age requirements by a year.

Now, the age won’t rise from 16 to 17 until 2015, and it won’t rise to the final 18-year-old point until a year afterwards.

While I am not sure that this bill is the right answer to the state’s dropout problem, I am very confident that the real number of dropouts is much higher than the “official” number of 6,500 which the WAVE-3 item mentions.

The state’s dropout reporting was officially audited in 2006 and found to seriously under-report the true number of dropouts.

Other, more credible calculations, which center on high school graduation rates, not dropouts, indicate Kentucky understates the true number of dropouts by somewhere around 60 to 100 percent.

Next year, the Kentucky Department of Education will drop its current, inaccurate dropout reporting and switch to a better graduation rate formula for school accountability. The data will get better still around 2013 when our new student tracking data system called Infinite Campus is supposed to be on line long enough to support really high grade reports.

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