In a previous posting on the appointment of Ruth Kaplan to the Board of Education, I noted a significant problem with promoting the view that there is a connection between MCAS and increasing dropout rates: More than half of all dropouts have already passed the MCAS.
Then, passed on from one of our wonderful Center for School Reform Advisors, is the editor’s commentary from last summer’s American Educator, a publication of the American Federation of Teachers (an affiliated international union of the AFL-CIO). Using two very different studies, the commentary, entitled “Conventional Wisdom on Dropout Rate is Questioned–Impact of Higher Standards is Not,” points out that high standards and exit exams have NOT driven up drop-out rates.
So let’s set the record straight regarding assumptions about exit (here in Massachusetts, opponents love to call them high-stakes) exams and drop-out rates.
The editor sums up two studies–from two very different institutes:
- Lawrence Mishel and Joydeep Roy’s report, “Rethinking High School Graduation Rates and Trends,” published by the Economic Policy Institute; and
- Jay Greene and Marcus Winters’s “Public High School Graduation and College-Readiness Rates: 1991–2002,” published by the Manhattan Institute.
After noting the difficulty of ascertaining exact dropout rates because of different methodologies and datasets available, the editor notes that
There is one point on which the two estimates agree: Neither methodology has produced any evidence that tougher standards and exit exams have driven up the dropout rate.