The Rochester City School District predicts its graduation rate went down in 2011
. The preliminary figures show a grad rate of 49 percent, a 2 percent drop.
District officials blamed two factors on Tuesday. First, the state requirement for students to pass four Regents exams has proved a major challenge. Second, the state changed the definition of “cohort,” forcing the district to include students who have attended for only one day.
On Wednesday, the state confirmed the “one day” rule. Here is an excerpt from a memo that went out to schools
Under New York’s “old” cohort definition, students who have been enrolled in a school or district for fewer than five months are not counted in the cohort for accountability and graduation rate reporting purposes. The new federal definition includes in the cohort any student who has been enrolled for one day or longer.
Forcing the district to include students who’ve attended for just one day would indeed have an impact on the graduation rate. The question is – how much? How many students attend the district for less than five months their freshman year and then drop out? Two percent would be around 60 students.
Board member Willa Powell said it’s not fair the district is forced to “own” students who’ve attended for just one day. But what happens to those students? If they’re still living in the city and not going to school, their lack of educational attainment should be counted in some fashion.
With this one-day rule in mind, perhaps the graduation rate – the most scrutinized statistic in every urban school district – needs to be treated as a reflection of the community as much as the schools.