This disturbing piece is from May 2001 and re-published yesterday online. Counts don’t add up, by Lucy Hood, Edmund S. Tijerina and Sharon K. Hughes. Some excerpts:
To assess the extent of the dropout problem, the newspaper last fall began to track the 1,053 freshmen who enrolled at Holmes in the 1997-98 school year. Holmes was chosen for the study because it is one of the most diverse high schools in San Antonio and, with 3,000 students, represents a typical large urban school in Texas.
The school district cooperated with the Express-News and provided the entire student roll for the research, including students’ names and addresses. The newspaper agreed to keep students’ names confidential, unless they agreed to be quoted in interviews.
The newspaper and school district compared names with enrollment and transfer records and attempted to track down students who transferred more than once. Reporters also knocked on doors to find missing students and sent a survey to the reported address of every student who wasn’t enrolled, sometimes following up with a second and third mailing.
When it hit a dead end with the missing students, the newspaper hired private investigator Manuel Alfaro to track down those who could not be found. Alfaro, a San Antonio investigator for 12 years, located 46 students.
The study found that many of the dropouts had been out of school for several years, had no diploma and had not enrolled in an alternative program. In some cases, they said they would attend home school, but they never did. Others said they were transferring to another Texas school, but they never showed up.
Home-schooling is one of 24 exemptions from the dropout rate permitted by the state. The TEA also lets schools exempt students who enrolled in a certified GED program, who are in jail or state child-protective custody or who reported their intent to return to their home country.
An accurate dropout figure is important, he said, because “you don’t know which schools are doing well and which schools are doing badly until you count them properly.”
Outside of the content you have to wonder why this eight year old piece was dredged up now? Anre Duncan maintains he is big on data, so should we conclude that we will be counted?