Ms. Kaplan is right to be “deeply troubled by the fact that too many children are being left behind in Massachusetts despite 12 years of Ed Reform,” as she noted at a State House press conference held by the Alliance for the Education of the Whole Child on January 10, 2006. As she further noted on that occasion:
For the school year 2003-4, DOE figures show that over 10,000 children dropped out of our schools.
All good so far. Also, not bad to have someone with passion to address the drop-out rate on the BOE. As Ms. Kaplan states later at the conference:
This drop-out rate is a disgrace and should be of urgent concern to everyone who has watched in horror as Boston teens are snuffed out by violence.
As Pioneer’s recent report on the state’s Middle Cities, 14 major cities outside of Massachusetts, showed, the drop-out rate and crime rates are significantly higher than for the rest of the state and constitute an almost insurmountable obstacle to reviving the fiscal health and viability of these cities. Where I have a problem is in the ease with which MCAS gets blamed for everything.
The rate has continued to rise since MCAS became a graduation requirement, but that connection has been dismissed outright by the Department of Education. I say to our leaders: investigate whether there is connection between the high crime rate and the disappearance of teens from our schools. And investigate the role high stakes testing may be playing in discouraging students from finishing school.
Half of the dropouts have already passed MCAS. Hmmm. Is it unreasonable to think that some of them were bored by the level of learning and lack of direction? It is worth remembering that passing the MCAS requires only that a student get fewer than half the answers right.