Thursday, July 06, 2006


Senior classes in the Sacramento region shrank 11.6 percent during the school year that ended in June

More than 2,800 Sacramento region 12th-graders who started the 2005-06 year with their class disappeared from public schools by June. Every year some seniors move, some graduate early and others are held back to 11th grade. But the vast majority of students who leave during their senior year are essentially dropping out, according to area educators.

Most seniors who leave school do so because they're so far behind in credits they won't be able to graduate with their class, school officials said, explaining the 11.6 percent drop in 12th-grade enrollment in Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties. The numbers emerged from public records act requests from The Bee.

Senior class attrition is one slice of the dropout problem facing high schools throughout California and the nation. The attrition rate is much larger when the count considers how much a class shrinks through four years of high school. From the fall of their freshman year to the end of what should have been their senior year, 28,509 students in the class of 2006 disappeared from the public schools of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties, according to state and district enrollment data. That works out to a 51 percent drop in class size in the Grant Joint Union High School District, a 39 percent drop in the Sacramento City Unified School District and a 23 percent drop in the San Juan Unified School District over the four-year period. Overall in the four-county region, the class of 2006 decreased by 24 percent over the last four years. "We do have students who you just lose. You don't know why they leave," said Linda Martin, an associate superintendent in the San Juan district. "I really wish we could have an exit interview with every student to understand why they're leaving."

Local educators said the new exit exam graduation requirement this year didn't make much difference in the number of dropouts -- seniors left school at the same rate this year as they have in the past, they said. "I don't think it's anything different than 25 years ago," said Bob Mange, who just retired from a 35-year career in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. "Kids do move and some drop out; I'm not debating that issue."

California has not completed a data system that follows students throughout their education. So when students leave school, officials can't accurately track whether they enroll in another school, take a high school equivalency exam or discontinue their education. The lack of reliable data has led researchers and state officials to different conclusions about how many students finish school. A Harvard University study last year reported a 71 percent graduation rate in California -- far lower than the 87 percent graduation rate reported by the state. The study's figures were even dimmer for Latino and African American students, who graduate at a rate of 60 and 57 percent, respectively, according to the study by the Harvard Civil Rights Project.

A study released earlier this month by Education Week says that the graduation rate nationwide is 70 percent, meaning 1.2 million students who started high school as part of the class of 2006 did not toss graduation caps with their peers this spring. Nationwide, most students who drop out do so in the ninth grade, according to the Education Week report. In California, however, most dropouts leave during 11th grade, said Christopher Swanson, author of the Education Week report. By the time students start their senior year, most of their peers who were likely to drop out already did. Still, attrition doesn't stop during 12th grade. Some schools in the Sacramento region -- including Luther Burbank and Sheldon high schools -- lost more than 100 seniors during the 2005-06 year, according to data The Bee collected from area school districts.

And every district in the region -- except the tiny districts of Esparto in Yolo County and Center in Sacramento County -- lost seniors this year. That was true even in high-growth areas like Folsom, Elk Grove and Natomas, where new home construction brings hundreds of new families into the schools each year.....

Sacramento county chief Gordon said many students who leave because they're behind in credits have not put in the effort necessary to succeed. California's high academic standards have led to tough courses that require students to work harder, he said. "It's there because we want the kids to be successful, not because we want to kick them to the curb and make them dropouts," Gordon said. He added that many who leave school without graduating go on to take the General Educational Development test or the California High School Proficiency Exam.

But for researchers and advocates, those students still reflect a failure of the education system. "If a student is leaving high school without a credential and going to get a GED, they would be a dropout," said Swanson, the Education Week researcher. "We have to be careful when we talk about GEDs," he said. "They're not as beneficial as regular credentials."


Make history study compulsory: PM

Australian history should be compulsory in the nation's schools, Prime Minister John Howard said today. The Federal Government is pushing the states and territories to reinstate the study as a stand-alone subject, and may force the issue in the next round of schools funding. Mr Howard said he was not expecting opposition from the states and said Australian history should be compulsory for at least part of the curriculum. "I would like to see it compulsory at certain stages," he told Southern Cross Broadcasting. "The detail of that can be worked out by the different education departments. "I'm not trying to write a course, I'm just wanting to establish the priority. "And I cannot understand how anybody in a government could object to Australian history being for some period of time a compulsory, stand alone subject."

The study should include European and Aboriginal history, Mr Howard said. "It's got to include some understanding of British and European history, an understanding of the enlightenment, an understanding of the influence of Christianity, of Western civilisation, all of those things that shaped Australian society have got to be included," he said. "But very particularly, we've got to have a proper narrative of what happened to this country both before 1788 ... and onwards. "Now that includes, obviously, some reference to indigenous history."

Mr Howard said it was essential to move away from studying history "as part of an examination of issues, an examination of cultural drifts". "I want history to be Australian history in all of the manifestations I've described," he said. "I want it to be a stand alone subject, it deserves that treatment. "I want Australians in future to understand the scale of the Australian achievement." The Government has commissioned two studies to assess the status of Australian history in schools and is planning a summit involving historians, teachers, commentators and community representatives.

The Australian newspaper reported today that if the states refused to reinstate Australian history as a subject, the Federal Government would consider making it a condition in its next $40 billion, four-year school funding agreement.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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