Graduation rate and Maryland schools
Education Week has put out its annual ranking of school system graduation rates today and the news is both good and bad for school systems around the region. Of the top 50 largest school districts throughout the country, Baltimore City is the sixth from the bottom with a graduation rate of 44.6 percent in 2006. Baltimore County, which has a graduation rate of 78.6 percent, is ranked fifth and Anne Arundel is eighth with a rate of 70.2 percent.
This might be rather depressing news for the city except for the fact that the way in which Education Week has calculated its rate is believed to be somewhat flawed, even by its own admission.
Ed Week does its best using the only data available for school systems across the nation, but it cannot actually track students. Rather, the graduation rate is an estimate based on the numbers of students who are in each grade that year in the district. So the rate does not take into account the students who graduate in five years nor does it try to compensate for what is known as the ninth-grade bulge. Many ninth-graders in the city don't pass all their classes and spend an extra half-year classified as a ninth-grader although they technically have nearly enough credits to be a 10th-grader.
In other words, the ninth grade looks larger than it really is and the number who eventually graduate is smaller than it should be.
So the Education Week researchers acknowledge that there may be a 14-point discrepancy in the true graduation rate and what they report.
In fact, the city schools say they graduated 62.6 percent of students.
We won't really have a true accounting of graduation rates for several years until a process is fully in place to track students.
But if Baltimore County's rate is actually as shown, that is good news for county residents. And Montgomery County tied for first place in the rankings.
The state as a whole had a graduation rate of about 73 percent, only slightly above the national average.