N C Committee on Dropout Prevention Meeting Summary

January 14, 2010

Senator Don Davis and Representative Earline Parmon Co-Chairs

Review of 2009 Dropout Prevention Grant Process Debora Williams presented to the Committee details on the history of the dropout grant awards. In 2007 there were 60 awards, another 123 in 2008 and finally 83 in 2009. Of these 60 grants went to recipients serving schools with four-year graduation rates greater than 65 percent, 58 grants went to recipients serving students in schools with a four-year cohort graduation rate less than 65 percent, and finally 22 grants were awarded to recipients serving only students in schools with a four-year cohort graduation rate of less than 65 percent. Charts were presented by counties and the grants by years to the members. They also gave grants for additional awards after the first year and those were listed in a separate table with the amounts. Members asked questions about the review of the grants and their success in helping schools/students. They talked about technical support provided and if many of the grants went to school systems rather than private non-profits. They asked about the monitoring and evaluation process for the grants. Most counties received anywhere from 1- 4 grants while some of the urban centers received between 5 and 8. Members asked when they might have “best practices’ as a result of the dropout grants.

Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate, Improving Graduation Rates and Raising Student Achievement Dr. Fabrizio began the discussion by reviewing the definition of the 4-year cohort graduation rate, showing the address for the website as well as explaining how the charts are developed and how the data is collated. Members continued to struggle with the calculation of the graduation rate number. They want to include students who get their GED from Community Colleges (which the Federal Government won’t allow). Mr. Fabrizio also told members the state rate is not the average of the LEA or school rates. It is the actual number of graduates divided by the number of students who could have graduated. They spent a great deal of time with the “what if” questions. What if a student leaves one school and goes to a charter, what if the student goes to a private school, what if the students leaves the state, what if the student simply goes to another school system in their Junior year. Who gets counted for the dropout the sending or receiving school. They were in “the weeds” trying to get all their “what ifs” answered. Who is held accountable for students who go through the Juvenile Justice schools/programs? Does DPI oversee these programs? Members were interested in the student identifier number so they can track them better and one member said data is going to be the key to the decisions considered during the 2010 short session of the General Assembly

Next Dr. Ashley reviewed graduation data from Lexington Senior High. Lexington has only one high school so it was used as a good example. She showed members how the data is generated and she talked about the graduation rates by ethnicity, gender, and exceptionality (i.e. special education). Lexington High has made very good progress in their graduation rate over the past three years, going from 62.1 percent to 70.1 percent. They have done it with help from DPI staff, improved leadership, and other interventions. Dr. Ashley reviewed the Turnaround Schools and their data and discussed the new identification criteria for schools to be served, proposed in the Race to the Top grant. They are planning to include any high school with a graduation rate below 60 percent or any school with a performance composite below 50 percent. Based on the 2008-2009 school data this would now include 132 schools, 64 elementary, 22 middle and 46 high schools. The change would result in an increased number of schools to be served.  Another chart presented the District and school Transformation schools 3-year graduation rate numbers and performance composite data. The same data for the Race to the Top identified schools was also shared in a spreadsheet. One major question was how could a school have a performance composite of 27.9 percent (number of students above grade level) and yet have a graduation rate of 78.7 percent (four-year graduates)?

Next Meeting: Thursday, February 18th at 10:00 AM in Room 643.

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