Thank goodness for Detroit (and Milwaukee)
Whether it's murder rates or graduation rates, Motor City always seems to be in an even sorrier state than Charm City.
So it is again with the release of Education Week's third annual rankings of the graduation rates in the nation's 50 largest school districts. Detroit, with a graduation rate of 37.5 percent, was at the bottom of the heap. This year, we can also thank Milwaukee for being worse than us; EdWeek calculated its graduation rate at 41 percent. Baltimore was third from last, with a graduation rate calculated at 41.5 percent.
Before getting too glum, it's important to keep in mind that the figures EdWeek is using come from 2005. In Baltimore, that's two CEOs ago. Dr. Alonso has said from the day he was hired last summer that he wants to be judged based on improvement in the graduation rate, and that he should be fired if it doesn't improve. He says it would be fair to evaluate him on the performance of the class of 2011, the students who were high school freshmen during his first year on the job.
If that's how long the system will take to show improvement, and if EdWeek continues to publish rankings with three-year-old data (understandably, the most recent available when you're studying the entire nation), we have six years to go before the survey will be less embarassing to Baltimore.
In the meantime, Maryland and many other states are moving toward giving students unique numerical identifications to more accurately track the graduation rate, which in Baltimore is likely understated by EdWeek but overstated in the official state calculation of 60 percent.
For Maryland overall, the picture doesn't look too bad in the EdWeek study. Of the state's five school systems large enough to be included in the ranking, three are in the top 10. Montgomery County is third from the top, Baltimore County is fourth (as Gina reports today) and Anne Arundel County is ninth. Prince George's County: 32nd of 50. Baltimore City: 48th.