How the City of Richmond Used Tricked-Out Truancy Numbers and Wound Up Giving RPS The Worst High School Dropout Rate in Virginia
not Every child who is truant from school becomes a dropout, but it is a sure bet that every dropout was at some point a truant. And now, the richmond public school system has the worst high school dropout rate in virginia, a rate nearly three times the state average. that said, Regular readers of this blog know that John Butcher and I have hammered away -- FOR YEARS -- at the truancy problems in the city of richmond and at the policies and people at the virginia department of education (VDOE) who choose to ignore the laws and thus enable this gross institutional law-breaking. most recently, we warned current RPS school board members and rps superintendent dana bedden that they needed to ask some hardball questions concerning the city's sudden desire to "re-Gift" the truancy program from the city to rps. we even sent information to rps board members that included links to a 2013 audit by city auditor umesh dalal that details problems with the city's truancy program, including a noteworthy lack of confidence and communication concerns expressed by richmond's juvenile and domestic court judgesand staff about the city's truancy efforts. [See page 33- ...]. clearly, richmond's efforts to address truancy issues have been a major mess for years.
never mind that The city (under former mayor l. douglas wilder (2004-2008), illegally usurped the school board's duties concerning truancy; and
never mind that the current mayor, dwight c. jones (2008- date) and his top advisors, david hicks and CAO byron marshall, kept the program and continue to claim the city has successfully reduced the truancy rate. They even had the gall to recently hand the truancy program back to RPS with the expectation that the schools operate it for less money than the city did. oh, yes and the city expects the schools to hire virtually all the same employees the city used.
now, Were the city's claims of running a successful program even remotely true, it would still defy common sense to ask that the schools run the program with less money. more's the pity and the absurdity then that when asked to produce the proof that the city created more than 7,500 attendance intervention plans after the fifth unexcused absence (as they claim), the city said those records exists with .... the schools.
And, when the schools were asked to produce the proof, the schools claimed (wait for it ...) those records exist with the city.
what both the school and city administrators fail to remember is that the proof of an effective truancy campaign can be seen in the dropout numbers of a school division.
Remember: NOT EVERY CHILD WHO IS TRUANT FROM SCHOOL BECOMES A DROPOUT, BUT IT IS A SURE BET THAT EVERY DROPOUT WAS AT SOME POINT A TRUANT.
consequently, butcher used his data mining skills to discover that, according to information on the vdoe website, richmond has the worst high school dropout rate in the commonwealth.
see butcher's report below and visit his new blog (Crankysblog) for more details.
As you can see, we’re the worst. Indeed, we are approaching a rate three times the state average.
As to students with disabilities, we do better. We’re only sixth from worst, at 2.4 times the state rate:
In contrast, eleven divisions (Bland, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Essex, Floyd, Halifax, Lancaster, Madison, Page, Patrick, and Prince Edward Counties) reported zero dropouts among their students with disabilities.
You might expect that the dropouts would be among the students who would do poorly on the SOL tests. If so, getting rid of 17.3% of the cohort didn’t help much: In 2013 we were fourth from the lowest math pass rate and dead last on the reading pass rate.
Of course, these numbers and our appalling truancy rate can only hint at the human potential that is being squandered by our lousy school system.