Dropout rate falls, but it’s still high

Article from the Gazette this past week.  “Good news” for schools?

Kinda.

Until you get to this snippet:

The government says its methodology for calculating the rate hasn’t changed. What is different now is the time of year when it processes the data. It maintains the adjustment allows for an official dropout rate that better reflects reality.

In the past, the rate was based on enrolment up to the end of January of the following school year. But that overestimated the dropout rate for some school boards, the Education Department said, noting it has observed a significant increase in students who re-enrol after January, especially in adult education and vocational education.

It has now pushed back the date for analyzing the data to the end of August.

Now hold on a second – YES – it seems like this is a better way to measure – but we’re no longer comparing apples to apples – so how can we possibly suggest that the dropout rate has actually fallen?

And Birnbaum is very right in this point:
However, he expressed frustration that the figures remain skewed for some of the association’s boards because they don’t seem to properly track students who are no longer in its system – those who might have left the province or gone to a French or private school.

It’s just plain silly that we count as dropouts students who leave the province and/or who move on to a French or private school.

So – the dropout rate – has it fallen?  We don’t really know.  And it’s silly that we don’t – this is not rocket science, it’s a question of tracking students and the path that they follow.

And by the way – when did “success rate” become a 7 year ride in high school?  What ever happened to the 5 year plan?  It’s amazing how we play with numbers. How are we really supposed to measure the success or failure of what we are doing?

Truly,

Steve
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