Recent TR stories about Leon County graduation rates has raised questions about the numbers behind the 2018-19 graduation rate of 92.5%.
Questions that Leon County Schools and Superintendent Rocky Hanna appear to have no interest in answering.
Here’s the story.
A data request by TR revealed a massive jump in students graduating in the years between 2015/16 to 2018/19 on an alternative path. The data shows the number of students that satisfied the graduation test requirement through alternative testing increased 291% from 129 in 2015/16 to 505 in 2018/19.
This means that the percentage of students that graduated from LCS through alternative testing has increased from 6.4% in 2015/16 to 21.8% in 2018/19.
The alternate path to graduation allows students to substitute alternative tests for the Florida Standard Assessment 10th grade English Language and the Algebra 1 end-of-course exam.
The problem is that several media reports indicate that education experts have deemed these alternative tests as flawed and say they do not meet federal education requirements.
Another problem is “credit recovery.”
In addition to passing standard tests, students must attain 24 credits in core classes. When students fail these classes, “credit recovery” options include mostly unmonitored and unproctored “virtual classes” that allow these students to earn the credits and meet graduation requirements.
However, a Slate article, “The New Diploma Mills,” describes how students enrolled in “credit recovery” classes simple googles questions for answers. Some experts have deemed these classes as mostly in-effective.
It is clear that the “alternative path”to graduation is ripe for review.
Based on these findings, I asked to speak with someone at LCS to determine the specific parameters of those that took the alternative path to graduation.
First, I was referred to the Florida Department of Education, who then referred me back to LCS. Again, LCS referred me back to FDOE with this statement from LCS Communication Director, Chris Petley:
“The graduation rate and requirements are set by the State. For any further questions I will direct you to their offices. We are in full compliance with their regulations and guidelines and are proud to have the 5th Highest Graduation Rate in the State. “
Last week, I forwarded this response to Superintendent Hanna and asked for help. No response.
I have now requested that LCS Board members get involved.
Simple questions like how many graduating students used credit recovery classes or why are more students failing or opting out of classroom tests should be easy to answer.
But LCS refuses.
I believe parents and taxpayers in Leon County have the right to know the details behind graduation rates that are used to champion the success of the Leon County School system.