Additional data is needed to assess schools’ success

This is again the time of year when my mind returns to some of the research I did during a 43-year career in education: 10 years as an industrial arts teacher in the Maryvale schools and 40 years at Rutgers University and the University at Buffalo.

The recent News article about high school graduation rates prompted this letter. To the best of my knowledge, the average freshmen graduation rate in the United States has remained in the range of 70 percent to 75 percent for the past 30 years. The 2009 Condition of Education reports an average graduation rate for 2000 to 2006 of between 71 percent and 75 percent nationwide. The News article reports that in the public schools of Erie and Niagara counties, it ranges from 24 percent at Burgard Vocational High School to 97 percent at Lewiston-Porter High School.

My concern is how well the school-to-school or school-to-work transition occurs for graduates. I’d like to see transition data for graduates two or three years after high school completion. In other words, what percentage of graduates made the transition to some form of post-secondary education; what percentage of graduates sought and found work after high school (including military duty); and what happened to those who did not find employment?

Of equal importance is data concerning the group that did not graduate within the four-year period. Data collection is costly, but perhaps worth the time and money to get a full picture of our educational system’s success or failure.

Albert Pautler