Thursday, April 9, 2015

How NOLA data reminds us that Nashville high schools are lagging

Reposted from TN Edu-Independent, 4-9-2015 - The state of Nashville high schools continues to lag, so says the data, although that's not the popular narrative that you hear on the streets of the supposed "IT CITY" these days. You hear our city's high schools are great.

The data tells a different story than the one high school leaders at the district want you to hear.  A recent article published by the local paper in New Orleans highlights some of the progress New Orleans' high schools have made, and provides some cold water in the face reflection on how Nashville high schools are faring:

"Of the students who graduated from New Orleans public schools last year, 59 percent immediately enrolled in college, according to recently released state data. That's a 4 point increase from the year before, and right on par with the state as a whole. In comparison, only 37 percent of the New Orleans Class of 2004 enrolled in college the year they graduated." 

59 percent college going from 37 percent in 10 years.

That's huge.

Think of all the students and families for which earning a college degree will make a significant difference. Think about the economic impact to the city of New Orleans with the boost to the labor force (a much more educated one).

If you think the rate jumped so much because the demographics of the kids in the schools changed, think again. (Katrina was in 2005)

"Test scores and graduation rates have climbed steadily. And while there are fewer public school students than before the storm – 43,000, down from 65,000 – the demographics are similar: 90 percent African-American (compared with 94 percent pre-Katrina) and 82 percent low-income (up from 77 percent)."
This big boost in college going rates has come with New Orleans schools becoming MORE low income.
So how does Nashville compare?
Well, not good. 

Nashville's most recent known college going rate of 52.5% is lower than New Orleans' rate of 59%.
New Orleans & Nashville ? 

That doesn't sound very "it city" to me, and New Orleans has a higher student poverty rate. I point that out because poverty rates strongly influence student college going, for all sorts of reasons. What if Nashville boosted it's college going rate 22 percentage points like New Orleans did? 

This handy tool lets you explore college going rates for districts across Tennessee and individual high schools within a district. College going rate means any student that enrolled in a 4 year, 2 year or TICUA.
*12-13 rate received via email, THEC data will update soon
Since 2010, Nashville has seen a steady decline in the college going rate.

One of the drawbacks of this tool is that it takes some time to generate these college going numbers and then make it public (enough time to allow the graduates to enroll in a postsecondary institution post high school graduation).  Hence, we still don't know the most recent 13-14 MNPS senior class college going data.
There are more data points from New Orleans to share which can help inform our perspective here in Nashville, and I'll do so in forthcoming posts, but we need to wake up in Nashville and realize our high schools continue to lag academically and are trending in the wrong direction when it comes to sending kids to postsecondary. 

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1 comment:

  1. Are we certain that "college going" is the proper measurement? Perhaps the companion should be how many of those that enter are ready for college level coursework or spend several years taking remedial work? TN Board of Regents is doing away w/ remedial coursework so that all students are enrolled in "college level" coursework even if they aren't ready ... those students will be offered lots of extra tutoring and support services, but does someone teach a section w/ such varying levels of student readiness? Grades may become even more meaningless as might the diploma awarded to those who graduate. College work isn't what it used to be just as a high school diploma doesn't mean what it used to mean ... let's stop fooling ourselves...we need a reliable workforce that is willing to show up everyday and do the jobs that need filling no matter the credentials...reading, writing, 4-function math w/out a calculator would be a good start ... be on time, be respectful and want a job more than you want a paycheck!!