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Old 12-07-2004, 12:39 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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L.A. Mayoral Debate: 50% high school dropout rate, whoah!

This statistic was mentioned during last week's mayoral candidates' debate in Los Angeles.

I knew things in the public schools were bad, but I'm astonished by this figure. And what I'm curious about is how does it happen? Do kids just walk away in disgust, believing that school has no relevance to their lives and the dangers they face every day? Are they afraid to show up due to gang activity and other hazards? Do their parents tell them to drop out and go to work to help the family, as in melodramas of a century ago? What is going on? This seems unbelievable to me.
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Old 12-07-2004, 12:49 PM
Harmonix Harmonix is offline
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It was more like 10% at my highschool for the class of 01.
  #3  
Old 12-07-2004, 12:59 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/dropout/StatusRates3.asp

That article isn't talking about LA specifically but they mention how 44.2 of hispanics born outside the US drop out of school, since LA has a high immigrant population that could explain part of it.
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Old 12-08-2004, 12:11 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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I don't believe the figure of 50%. No group in the U.S. has a dropout rate that high. Look at this table:

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/dropout/StatusRates2.asp

(Click on the link to table 3.)

No group has a dropout rate of 50%, not even Hispanics born outside of the U.S. Even if 100% of the students at L.A. schools were Hispanics born outside of the U.S. (and they're not), the dropout rate wouldn't be that high.
  #5  
Old 12-08-2004, 12:55 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
I don't believe the figure of 50%. No group in the U.S. has a dropout rate that high. Look at this table:

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2001/dropout/StatusRates2.asp

(Click on the link to table 3.)

No group has a dropout rate of 50%, not even Hispanics born outside of the U.S. Even if 100% of the students at L.A. schools were Hispanics born outside of the U.S. (and they're not), the dropout rate wouldn't be that high.
You conclusion may or not be right but your reasoning is off. The OP wasn't asking about the whole U.S., just Los Angeles. There is no reason that Los Angeles has to mirror the statistics of the entire nation. I know of many public schools in poorer area s of the South in which the dropout rate is higher than 50%. The data you submitted is just an agregate of everyone. There are places that are much worse off than the average.
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Old 12-08-2004, 01:05 AM
hajario hajario is online now
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I am a product of L.A. City Schools and I can tell you that they are crap. Some teachers and even a very few administrators were gems but they were in the minority. So many of them were incompetent or just didn't give a shit anymore.

Why drop out? In my high school (and this was over 20 years ago) it was pregnancy, incarceration, getting disabled in gang warfare, flunking out because of a lack of ability to read at a very basic level to name a few. My high school was middle of the pack for L.A. in terms of how bad it was. My WAG for the dropout rate in my day would be around 15-20%. It could have been worse than that. I spent most of my time concentrating on doing what I had to do to get the fuck out of there.

Haj
  #7  
Old 12-08-2004, 01:53 AM
Rick Rick is offline
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I graduated from LAUSD, as did both of my kids.
Based on what I saw as my kids went through high school, I can state this. For a 50% number to be accurate across the LAUSD overall, there would have to be some schools with an 80%+ drop out rate to counter act the drop out rate (or lack there of) in my kids school. I doubt that it was over 10%, probably closer to 5%
Man there must be some real small graduating classes somewhere in LA.
  #8  
Old 12-08-2004, 09:09 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is online now
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Shagnasty writes:

> The data you submitted is just an agregate of everyone.

So what? The point is that there is no group divided by sex, race, ethnic group, or even foreign birth that has that low a dropout rate. Los Angeles is a very diverse city. The schools have lots of white, black, Asian, and Hispanic students. They have students whose families range from poor to upper middle class. Even if every single student in the L.A. schools was Hispanic and born outside the U.S., you still wouldn't expect there to be a 50% dropout rate. Incidentally, many rural Southern schools have students who on average come from considerably poorer families than the average L.A. students. Poverty is not confined to the inner cities of big cities in the U.S. In fact, it's actually more common in certain rural areas of the U.S.

Now would someone please look up the actual dropout rate in L.A. and post it?
  #9  
Old 12-08-2004, 10:48 AM
KP KP is offline
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The statistics are often framed in terms that are deliberately skewed to make the point the presenter wishes to make.

For example: Schools usually frame dropout rates in terms of "per year", especially when discussing specific ethnic groups. This page, randomly chosen, cites the following statistics:
Quote:
The Community

· Los Angeles County is the most populous county in California[2], with an estimated 9,838,861 residents by midyear 2000.[3]

· 31.93% (3,141,901) of the county’s population will be under age 20 by midyear 2000. Of the population under age 20, 20.57% will be Caucasian, 58.89% will be Latino, 11.00% will be Asian or Pacific Islander, 9.33% will be African American, and 0.20% will be American Indian.[4]

· An estimated 22.7% of all residents and 33.7% of all children under age 18 in 1996 lived in poverty.[5]



Education[6]

· A total of 70,173 full-time teachers taught 1,617,764 students in 1,743 Los Angeles County public schools (kindergarten through 12th grade) during the 1998-1999 school year. The average class size was 27.8 students.[7]

· 15,761 students dropped out of grades 9 through 12 during the 1998-99 school year. The dropout rate was 3.8% for American Indians, 1.3% for Asians, 4.8% for Pacific Islanders, 2.6% for Filipinos, 4.4% for Latinos, 5.7% for African Americans, and 1.6% for Caucasians.[8]

· 75,382 students graduated from Los Angeles County public schools during the 1998-99 school year. Of these, 28,666 (38.0%) had completed all courses required for admittance to the University of California (UC) or California State University (CSU).[9]

· Of graduates meeting UC or CSU requirements in 1989-99, 15,808 were female and 12,858 were male. UC or CSU requirements were completed by 25.1% of American Indian graduates, 64.1% of Asian graduates, 29.4% of Pacific Islander graduates, 51.7% of Filipino graduates, 27.5% of Latino graduates, 33.8% of African American graduates, and 43.9% of Caucasian graduates.[10]
Are the annual dropout figures misleading? I would argue that they are.

Note that the number of high school dropouts in that one year was 21% of the graduating class. The total number of dropout would have been the number of "Class of 1999" dropouts in the preceding 12 years (though I freely concede that few children drop out after the first grade). If we look at high school dropouts alone, and assume that conditions were reasonably consistent from 1995-99, we'd find that 17.3% of entering 9th graders who would have graduated in 1999 dropped out -- this means the OVERALL high school dropout rate is about four times than the highest incidence ethnic group cited.

More worrisome, the under-20 population is 3,141,901. For a crude estimate, let's assume that there is an equal number at each age. That's 157,095 youths who are, say, 18 years old (or any other age). Compare that with the 75,382 high school graduates, and that's 48%. Yes, some kids graduate at 19 0r 20, but if we assume consistent numbers from year to year, the kids who were "left back" from the class of 1998 would balance out the kids who were left back to graduate in 2000. Similarly, the numbers of early grads, double- and triple- demotions, etc. would balance out across the years

In gross terms: if we assume these numbers are fixed from year to year, The number of graduates produced by LA County high schools in the next 20 years would be less than half the number of kids under 20 in the County. In other social settings (socioeconomic status encompasses far more than just poverty) the number of kids graduating would approximate the number of kids born into the county. What could account for this? Well, I imagine that the 19,912 juvenile arrests in LA county per year [1997 figure] (400,000 arrests over 20 years or 2.6 arrests per person under 20) has something to do with it.

Are these numbers accurate? I have no idea. I simply note that a quick glance at a tabular summary can be misleading -- and that the numbers cited in that table don't seem to make sense (e.g. how many ethnically unclassified dropouts are there?) You need to go back to the source data. I compared the raw number of HS graduates in LA Country per annum and the population "at risk" for graduation, to summarize a complex system of effects, solely because they should be easily confirmed "hard" numbers. I don't pretend this is any kind of formal analysis
  #10  
Old 12-08-2004, 04:36 PM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KP
You need to go back to the source data.
So let’s do that.

Here are the most recent official dropout statistics from Los Angeles County from the California Department of Education. They show dropout rates by grade and also a “four-year derived rate”. The four-year rate is the one minus the product of (one minus the annual dropout rate) for grades 9 through 12. See also background on how one defines a dropout and how the rates are calculated.

The overall dropout rate for Los Angeles County, then, is 19%. The Hispanic rate is 23%. So were the figures in the mayoral debate a lot of hooey?

Probably not. Los Angeles County includes more than the City of Los Angeles. The California DOE aggregates data by school district and county, not by municipality. In the absence of citywide data, take a look at the data by school for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Note the horrifying dropout rates for some schools. No doubt the higher rates are concentrated in the city, so a citywide four-year dropout rate of 50% seems very believable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KP
That's 157,095 youths who are, say, 18 years old (or any other age). Compare that with the 75,382 high school graduates, and that's 48%.
There are also private schools.

Now then, back to the OP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus
how does it happen? Do kids just walk away in disgust, believing that school has no relevance to their lives and the dangers they face every day? Are they afraid to show up due to gang activity and other hazards? Do their parents tell them to drop out and go to work to help the family, as in melodramas of a century ago? What is going on?
All of the above, plus pregnancy.
  #11  
Old 12-08-2004, 05:29 PM
Punoqllads Punoqllads is offline
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One thing that I've seen happen is for these large percentages to be due to creative wording. The figures are calculated based upon the ratio of the number of students who didn't graduate from the school system to the total number of students who attended high school in that system. This means that students who transfer out to a private school, or who move to a new location outside of the school district will be counted as "dropouts" even if they graduate as valedictorians from their new school. E.g., if 400 students start out in the school system prior to entering 9th grade, and 400 students transfer into the district at some point between 9th and 12th grade, but 400 students (possibly from the pool of students who transfered in) leave the school rolls before graduating, it produces a graduation rate of 50%.

I'm betting the candidate said "graduation rate", not "dropout rate", implying that the dropout rate was 50%. On the other hand, maybe he did say "dropout rate" with a plan to slide back into weasel words if he actually has his bluff called.
  #12  
Old 12-08-2004, 06:32 PM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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I've never lived in LA or the LA area, and am fairly new to CA as a whole. But one thing I did learn recently is that CA high school students have an opportunity to "test out", and continue on, either in a vocational school, a junior college, or a career. There was a pretty in depth article about the California High School Proficiency Exam in our local paper several months ago, and how it's becoming an appealing option for more and more students unhappy with the public school systems.

I'm not discounting the reasons mentioned above, though like I said, I don't really know the area, but I wouldn't only assume the worst.
  #13  
Old 12-08-2004, 07:35 PM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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Again, please see the California Department of Education definition of a dropout:
Quote:
For each student identified in the criteria above, the student is not a dropout if:

The student has re-enrolled and is attending school.

The student has graduated from high school, received a General Education Development (GED) or California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE) certificate.

The student has transferred to and is attending another public or private educational institution leading toward a high school diploma or its equivalent. (Does not include adult education programs unless the district can verify that these students are still enrolled in a GED or high school completion program on Information Day.)

The student has transferred to and is attending a college offering a baccalaureate or associate's program.

The student has moved out of the United States.

The student has a temporary school recognized absence due to suspension or illness.

The school has verified that the student is planning to enroll late (e.g., extended family vacation, seasonal work.)

The student has died.
  #14  
Old 12-08-2004, 07:48 PM
Regallag_The_Axe Regallag_The_Axe is offline
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"There are three knids of lies; lies, dirty lies, and statistics"--Benjamin Disraeli

Keep in mind that people can fuck with numbers to prove points that might be wrong.
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