Study Provides Early Indicators Of High-School Drop Out Risks
A new study finds that information on students’ freshman year course credits and failures can be used to predict whether they will graduate from high school, providing an early indicator of drop out risk to parents, teachers and schools. The Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago recently released a report examining an indicator that uses credit accumulations and course failures to determine whether students are “on-track” to finish high school.
“The On-Track Indicator as a Predictor of High-School Graduation” was written by Consortium executive director John Q. Easton and associate director Elaine M. Allensworth. The indicator was created and developed at the Consortium and was later adopted by the Chicago Public Schools as part of its accountability system.
Students are on-track if they earn at least five credits and no more than one semester “F” grade in their freshman year of high school. On-track students are 3.5 times more likely to graduate from high school in four years than off-track students.
The report finds that on-track students are not just those with the highest achievement test scores. A number of students with high standardized test scores fail to graduate from high school, while significant numbers of students with low standardized test scores do manage to graduate. Success in high school requires that students have skills besides those measured by achievement tests.
The report’s authors argue that parents and teachers should carefully monitor students’ grades, especially in the first semester of freshman year, when there are still many opportunities for improvement.
For the nation’s public schools, this indicator could prove very useful as a way to improve reporting requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act. In the report commentary, the Urban Institute’s Dr. Duncan Chaplin notes that the on-track indicator could be used to hold schools accountable for graduation rates, rather than focusing solely on test scores.
The report can be downloaded for free or ordered from the Consortium’s Web site at <www.consortium-chicago.org>.
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