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Archive for Sunday, January 12, 2014

Lawrence graduation rates still show racial, economic disparities

January 12, 2014

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  • High school students in Lawrence are about as likely as those in the rest of the state to graduate on time, according to figures from the Kansas State Department of Education. But that's not true for all subgroups, most notably black males and students from low-income households.

    According to Kansas State Department of Education data, for the graduating class of 2013 in Lawrence, the graduation rate was 84.2 percent. That's up slightly from 82 percent of the class of 2010, when the state adopted the current form of tracking students.

    However, the graduation rate was only 69 percent among black males, compared with 82 percent of black females. And only about 70 percent of students in that class who received free or reduced-price meals graduated on time.

    Lawrence officials say part of that is due to the small number of students in those subgroups. The class of 2013 started out with only 67 black students to begin with, so a single student in that group is more than 1 percent of the total.

    But the same trends are reflected statewide. In the Kansas class of 2012, the most recent for which statewide numbers are available, 85 percent of all students graduated on time. But the rate was only 76 percent among blacks and students receiving free or reduced-price meals.

    The state measures graduation rates according to four-year cohort groups: students who enter the ninth grade in one year and graduate together four years later.

    That number includes those who can be verified as having moved to another school district, or those who complete a GED within the expected four years.

    Those who do not graduate on time, however, are not necessarily considered "dropouts." Those who are counted as nongraduates include those who stay in school for a fifth year, as well as those who move out of the district and do not report where they have gone, and those who transfer to unaccredited schools, including home schools.

    Terry McEwen, the district's director of assessment, research and instructional resources, will report to the Lawrence school board about those trends when the board meets at 7 p.m. Monday in the administration building, 110 McDonald Drive.

    In addition, the board is scheduled to hold a two-day workshop called "Beyond Diversity" Jan. 28-29. Disparities in graduation rates and other academic measures are expected to be a major topic during that workshop.

    In other business Monday, the board will:

    • Review schematic designs for renovations at Sunset Hill School and the four middle schools.

    • Consider revisions to the 2014-2015 district calendar, which would eliminate two weather-related make-up days and make other changes so that the school year will end before Memorial Day 2015, allowing more time for construction projects.

    • Vote on a proposed list of capital improvement projects for 2014.

    • And consider agreements with Sabatini Architects and Gould Evans Associates for the design of additional classrooms beyond those originally planned for the bond issue at Deerfield, Kennedy, Langston Hughes, Pinckney, Schwegler, Sunflower and Sunset Hill.

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