Report: Nation's high school graduation rate increases, Ohio's graduation rate declines

Diplomas Count: Beyond High School, Before Baccalaureate, a report produced in conjunction with Education Week and Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) was released today. The intensive study measures high school graduation rates across the nation. The class of 2008 is the most recent graduating cohort to be profiled by the annual report.

According to the study, the nation’s high school graduation rate improved by 2.9 percent from 68.8 percent in 2007 to 71.7 percent in 2008, but Ohio’s graduation rate suffered a slight decline. A total of 74.3 percent of Ohio high school students from the class of 2008 graduated, down three tenths of a percent from the state’s previous year’s graduation rate of 74.6. Ohio’s high school graduation rate still outperforms the nation’s graduation rate of 71.7 percent.

Diplomas Count states that Ohio’s high school graduation rate has increased by seven percent over the past ten years. Ohio’s ten-year graduation rate increase was slightly higher than the nation’s increase of 6.1 percent over the same time period.

The report forecasts that more than 1.15 million students from the class of 2011 will fail to graduate. In 2010, Diplomas Count predicted that more than 1.29 million students would fail to graduate. This year’s projected non-graduate count is approximately 140,000 fewer than the 2010 edition of the EPE report which predicted that 1.29 million students from the class of 2010 would fail to graduate with their peers. Ohio’s share of projected non-graduates for this school year amounted to slightly more than three percent of the nation’s projected non-graduates.

Diplomas Count predicted that 39,336 Ohio students would fail to graduate with their peers, up slightly from 39,202 students the year before—an increase of less than one half of one percent. This number, divided by 180 days of school represents an average of slightly more than 218 students per day.—an average of 217 students per day, three percent of the nation’s total non-graduates.

To calculate the graduation rates, EPE used the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI), multiplying the four grade to grade promotion rates (including those that actually graduated). This information was found in the Common Core Data maintained annually by the U.S. Department of Education.

Ohio does not use the CPI to calculate its graduation rate, relying instead on the Leaver Rate. This formula defines the state’s graduation rate as the percentage of students who leave high school with a diploma when compared to the number of other students who leave with alternative credentials or drop out.

According to the Leaver Rate, Ohio posted an 83.4 percent graduation rate for the class of 2008. When the CPI was used in Diplomas Count, Ohio’s graduation rate was found to be 74.3 percent.

Click for a larger version of this image. Data Sources: Ohio Department of Education, Diplomas Count

Regardless of which formula is used to calculate Ohio’s graduation rate, serious achievement gaps exist in Ohio that are exemplified by the class of 2008. According to Diplomas Count, White and Asian students graduated at a much higher rate (80 and 75.5 percent, respectively) when compared with Black (46.7 percent), Hispanic (43.2 percent) or American Indian (61.4 percent) students. Additionally, female students’ average graduation rate was seven percent higher than male students’ graduation rate. No data was included in the study for Special Education students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Brace yourself for attacks

"Brace yourself. 1-365" by Flickr user chelo.face.

The time period for gathering signatures on our petitions will soon end. Once the Ohio Secretary of State certifies that we have collected more than 231,000 registered voters’ signatures, S.B. 5 will be placed on the ballot in the November General Election and be subjected to the citizens’ veto.

Teachers, firefighters and police officers are some of the highest-trusted professionals in the United States. Despite this fact, we will be the target of an expensive and ugly political propaganda war waged by our enemies specifically designed to discredit us.

Soon, we will encounter ads on television, radio, the Internet and in print that will portray us as a lazy and opportunistic privileged class, unwilling to share the economic pain of the private sector. Our enemies will say that they are simply trying to fix Ohio and save the middle class, but they can’t because we stand in their way.

What our enemies will say about us will make our blood boil. As these attacks begin, it is only natural to want to blindly strike back in response, to do something, anything, in defense of our profession. We must take care not to burn ourselves out before the real battle begins. We must be strategic, measured and stay on message during the fight for our lives.

Take heart in the fact that we have been entrusted with that which is most precious to all Ohioans–their children. In the coming months, do not become discouraged and do not despair. We are all in this together. We will emerge victorious. We are CEA.

Courtney Johnson, proud member of TBS

CEA/TBS member Courtney Johnson testifies on Capitol Hill in March of 2011. Photo courtesy Pat Ryan/NEA.

Teachers for Better Schools (TBS) is the Columbus Education Association’s political-action arm, a separate entity from CEA developed to keep its eye on the political arena. It raises money for political candidates, levy and bond campaigns and other ballot issues affecting Columbus teachers and the school community.

TBS carefully studies the issues and informs all CEA members about the voting behavior and stated positions of our elected officials. Courtney Johnson is one of many CEA members that have also joined TBS.

She cites her mother, a longtime public servant (and now teacher) in Ironton, Ohio, as the inspiration for her entry into teaching. Johnson was hired by the district in 2001. Her first assignment was as a fourth and fifth grade special education teacher at Hubbard ES. She currently teaches ninth grade Humanities at Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School.

“TBS is important to me because any decisions that are made by elected officials that could potentially affect my teaching conditions will irrevocably affect my students’ learning conditions,” said Johnson, who recently testified on behalf of Ohio education professionals before the House Democratic Outreach and Steering Committee in Washington, D.C.

“I joined TBS because I know that CEA doesn’t spend my dues dollars on political candidates or issues,” she continued. “I know that my donations are needed now more than ever before so that my voice can be heard. In fact, because of what’s before us, I’m increasing the amount that I give through payroll deduction. I am asking my colleagues who are not members of TBS to join, and those that have joined to increase the amount they donate to TBS.”

Like it or not, it is elected leaders who decide our fate. Senate Bill 5 will weaken the voice of educators and weaken our participation in the political process. Now more than ever, it is important to raise funds, support TBS and get out the vote.

CEA does not use dues money to promote individual candidates or issues. Instead, we ask you join TBS. To join TBS, ask your faculty representative for a TBS membership form or download a form from the CEA website at Sign up now. This is something that teachers can do now to fight for our future the future of public education and collective bargaining.