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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Wed, Nov 17, 2010

8th-grade attendance rate predicts HS graduation

by Rhonda Rosenberg | published November 11, 2010
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Attendance in grade 8 is the strongest factor for predicting on-time high school graduation and is a consistent indicator of schools with the highest and lowest graduation and Regents diploma rates, says a September 2010 report released by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Some schools use this and other data to screen out students with a poor chance of graduating on time. These selective admission policies have resulted in certain schools being primed for success and other schools being positioned to fail.

The correlation between attendance rates and on-time high school graduation is stronger than the correlation for any other 8th-grade variable including English language arts and math test scores, poverty, English language learner status and over age for grade. On average, 9th-graders who enter high school facing the most challenges for graduating on time attended 27 fewer days of school than 9th-graders who entered high school without any challenges.

The second best predictor of on-time graduation is meeting the grade 8 standards on the New York State English language arts and math tests, basically scoring at Level 3 or 4. Surprisingly, poverty is not a significant predictor of on-time graduation, although it has a small negative relationship with Regents-diploma rates. As a student’s poverty rate rises, the likelihood of receiving a Regents diploma declines.

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity also finds that a school’s admissions policies play a role in its success. Admission policies that allow schools to chose students on the basis of attendance and grades have steered the highest-performing students — those with the best chances of graduating — into a select few schools. These policies have segregated schools not only by achievement, but by income and ethnicity as well.

The 30 high schools with the most selective admissions criteria enrolled less than 10 percent of the entering 2004 cohort, but more than 50 percent of students scoring at Level 4 on the state grade 8 ELA and mathematics tests. By comparison, schools with less selective admissions criteria enrolled the largest percentage of students scoring at Level 1 and the smallest percentage of students who scored at Levels 3 and 4.

The study sheds some new light on how to think about New York City high schools with poor graduation rates. These schools are not necessarily failing, as some might say, but rather are inundated with children who have multiple barriers to on-time graduation.

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >