Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Statistics


Summit County, Colorado
Gary Lindstrom gary@garylindstrom.com

Statistics

I was listening with some interest this morning as the reports of President Obama's education policy was being discussed. One of the keystones of the policy is reducing the dropout rate.

Of course I am opposed to dropouts. I think that every child should strive to graduate from High School and go on to a four year college degree. Obama wants to achieve that by 2020.

The is an old adage about how statistics never lie but statisticians do. Dropout rates are a major way to get state and federal funding. If you can prove that your schools are not working then government will throw billions of dollars at the problem.

Most schools will achieve a 60% graduation rate. 40% of the students that start the 9th grade never finish the 12th grade. Sounds simple right? Wrong.

There is no system in place to track the kids that start the 9th grade and then move on to another school district or state. If they do not finish they are a dropout. The child who is a whiz and starts college at 15 is a dropout. Did not graduate from high school. A dummy. A bum. Yet has a BA when he or she is 18 or 19. Hardly any of these.

Be careful of the numbers because the statisticians do lie. g

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