Children at Risk commissioned the Texas Education Agency to study graduation in six years. Dr. Robert Sanborn is president and CEO. He says some of the findings in the study were dramatic.
“In the Houston Independent School District, only 53-percent of the first time freshmen that started six years ago were actually graduating. The lowest school district in our area was North Forest, with a 45-point-seven percent six year graduation rate. The highest was Friendswood ISD, with a 78-point-4-percent graduation rate.”
Diana Zarzuelo with Children at Risk helped compile the study. She found two different standards when it comes to the education of children.
“School districts are torn between…okay, well I’m trying to follow in a line between the state and at the federal government, and it’s just making the message unclear for our schools and really blurring the focus.”
The HISD estimates it graduates as many as 77-percent of its students within four years. Sanborn says that number, based on a TEA guideline, doesn’t truly reflect the students who leave the district.
“They have a certain thing called leaver codes, and if someone leaves in an undocumented way, they’re able to take those out of the measurement. And we’re saying we need to count every single child.”
Karen Garza: “We’re talking about passing judgment on schools and we think a more complete picture of those issues is more important.”
Karen Garza, chief academic officer for the HISD, acknowledges a problem with keeping kids in school. Dr Sanborn says more funding is needed to help schools with low graduation rates.
“But I think the public does not want to give more funding unless they understand that something tangible is gonna be done. Research shows that a longer school year is gonna have a positive impact. The public wants to see responsible spending, but I think the public also wants our kids to graduate.”
Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.