Double Bogus


By John R. Butcher a/k/a cranky
September 30, 2015

We have seen that Richmond’s federal graduation indicator (known in these pages as the “actual” graduation rate to distinguish it from VDOE’s inflated “on-time” rate) continues to be dismal.
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And we know that even the “actual” rate misreports the real Richmond rate because data for the students at the Appomattox and Maggie Walker Governor’s Schools are reported for the high schools in their home districts, not at the Governor’s Schools.
We can get some insight into the magnitude of this deception by looking at the School Report Cards on the VDOE Web site.  For example,the Report Card for TJ tells us that TJ had a “Governor’s School enrollment” of 126.  The cohort report tells us that the school had 206 Advanced and Standard diplomates in a cohort of 252 students, for an “actual” graduation rate of 81.7%.  
VDOE does not refine the Governor’s School data further.  As a worst case, let’s assume that all 126 were full-time at one of the Governor’s Schools (after all, they do say Governor’s school “enrollment”), that a quarter of them (31) were in the graduating class, and that all of those earned a Standard or Advanced diploma.  That leaves 175 “actual” TJ graduates in the cohort, for a graduation rate of 69.4%.  If we assume only that the 31 received one of the five diplomas the VDOE counts toward the on-time rate, the on-time rate drops from 90.9% to 78.6%.
Upon applying the same assumptions to adjust the other Richmond high schools’ rates, we see the following:
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Notes: VDOE reports the Governor’s School enrollment at Open High as “<,” meaning fewer than ten.  For lack of a better number, the graphs above use zero for that datum.  Hat tip and a huge TY to Jim Bacon for reminding me that only about a quarter of students enrolled in high school are seniors(!).
Granted this is a worst case analysis.  Nonetheless, until VDOE (which shall here be known as the State Department of Data Suppression and Manipulation) comes clean about the Governor’s School data, I won’t feel at all uncertain about whether the second graph there is very close to being an accurate picture of the dismal performance of Richmond’s public high schools.