Monday, July 11, 2011

Prichard joins in on education statistics fantasies

I wrote yesterday about some pretty bad analysis of education performance in a new report from a group at UK.

Today, I stumbled across more of the same in the Prichard Committee’s blog. This time, it’s a fiction that Kentucky captures most of its high school dropouts accurately.

Don’t believe it!

Prichard simplistically looks at the total number of high school diplomas and certificates handed out in 2010 and tries to compare that to the number of eighth grade students who took Kentucky Core Content Tests back in 2006.

Prichard says Kentucky had 43,711 graduates in 2010, which matches the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) data on page 14 in the June 1, 2011 Nonacademic Data Briefing Packet.

But, the KDE has not told us how many of those diplomas and certificates were awarded to students who took more than the standard amount of time to earn them. The release of that detailed data has been delayed until August, a dubious delay I have mentioned before.

However, an Excel spreadsheet report covering the previous year shows 135 diplomas were awarded to learning disabled students who spent five years in high school and another 756 students also took more than four high school years to earn a diploma. They would not have been part of the Class of 2009 back in the eighth grade.

Based on the 2009 data, I would estimate nearly 900 students who got a high school credential in 2010 were not part of the class when it was in eighth grade back in the 2005-06 school year.

Also, other research I have done indicates that in Kentucky about 1,500 students transfer to public high schools from non-public schools between grades eight and nine. Prichard’s analysis totally ignores this extra input to the class’ enrollment upon high school entry.

Putting this together, the real 9th grade first time entrants for the class of 2010 would not be the 50,841 students Prichard claims; it would be more like 52,341.

At the other end of the process, the total number of graduates from this entering group of ninth grade students would be something like 43,711 minus 900, or only 42,811.

That means we ‘lost’ 52,341 minus 42,811, or 9,530 students. But, the KDE’s Nonacademic Data Brief’s Table 1a only shows 6,647 dropping out of the Class of 2010 as it proceeded through each grade in high school.

Where did the other 2,883 go?

Don’t ask Prichard.

But, do ask KDE why it is taking so long to get accurate dropout and graduation rate information in the “education state.”

Kentucky will be the last, or second to last, state to finally report accurate high school graduation data, and that won’t reach the public until 2014.

And, I suspect I will have to point out errors in Prichard’s analysis every year until then.

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