Oct 30 2007
05:28 pm

Rockwood and Midway High Schools aren't looking good in the dropout rate category.

Both of them lose more than 40% of their students before they graduate. For years I've wondered how they could have 40% go away and still manage to report a 75% graduation rate, still well below the 90% graduation rate goal even so.

I know they teach math to the kids...But what about the Administration?
OK, that's a low blow. To be fair, Rockwood has a new Principal this year so we'll cut him some slack.

Anyway, we know that Dr. McGriff has been emphasizing performance and ruffling some feathers in the entrenched old boy network in the short time she has been in Roane County and lots of them have moved on. We'll see how this news is taken in our community, but it certainly isn't appropriate to lay the blame on the new folks. We have to hope that they are part of the solution and turning this freight train around will take time and commitment from everybody in Roane County.

Especially the good old boys.

Aticle and Study have a lot of incorrect data

How a place like John Hopkins could put a study like this out and how an organization like the Associated Press could publish such an article is beyond me. Much of the story and study contain non-factual information.

"Midway and Rockwood high schools, in Roane County, have a retention rate of 56 percent and 59 percent, respectively."

Rockwood has a graduation rate of 75% and Midway has a rate of 80%.(this is from the state) RHS will be on the state’s “target” list this year because they missed their goal by 6/10 of a percent. Remember that GED and special education students count against us - this is important to remember. Does Johns Hopkins have data that the state doesn't have? If so where did they get it?

"Two East Tennessee high schools are on the "dropout factory" list"

Seven schools on the list are from Hamilton County -- I was not aware that this county was not in east Tennessee - guess my teachers were all wrong.

"Toni H. McGriff, Roane County director of schools, and board members who represent the schools did not return calls seeking comment Monday evening."

I know of no school board members that were contacted and Dr. McGriff was contacted as she left work yesterday -- she didn't even have time to respond before this article was written.

From the Johns Hopkins study when addressing their data of ninth graders who did not graduate from the same high school they started in "some transferred, most dropped out". When a student leaves a school in Tennessee they are not tracked to see if they dropped out, transferred to another school, got a GED, or came back to school to finish. How on earth did Johns Hopkins get the data to make a statement like the one above. Did they track every student that left Midway and Rockwood? I doubt it. I suspect they just used a "national estimate of some kind". If you are going to do a statistical analysis you have to use all solid, dependable data. If you introduce subjectivity to the analysis, the whole study loses credibility.

The last statement in the article states "Utah, which has low poverty rates and fewer minorities than most states, is the only state without a dropout factory.". What is the AP implying here? Where is Jesse Jackson's response to that statement?

This article triggered media to be in Roane County all day chasing a story that was factually incorrect and a study that was greatly flawed.

Can we decrease our dropout rate? Yes, we should contine to work in that way. But to call two of our schools dropout factories is a totally false statement. If Roane County has dropout factories, then that same tag can be put on every school system in the state because our real dropout rates are no worse than any of the others.

Here is media release from the schools today about this situation

The article contained in today’s Knox News Sentinel regarding Midway High School and Rockwood High School in Roane County allegedly based on an Associated Press article contains “statistics” that are untrue. Neither high school has drop out rates of the magnitude reported. Midway High School has consistently met the Tennessee target scores for graduation rates and has done so again this year at almost 80%. Rockwood high school has historically met the target, but is reported by the state to be .6% (6/10%) below the target for school year 2006-07 (the latest data available). The graduation rate for Rockwood High School is 75% for SY 2006-07.

All Roane County high schools work diligently with students and parents to support the goal of graduation from high school. A number of programs and options are available at each school to help students stay on track to high school graduation.

Sorry Earl, I'm not with you on this one

I've commented for several years that we are fudging numbers here. Actually, RCHS isn't from what I can remember but Rockwood numbers don't make sense.

You can't consistantly have 40% more students in your freshman class than your senior class and claim a 75% graduation rate.

It would take four years of "report cards" to nail this one down, but I figure it is exactly like the "Texas miracle", if you remember that one.

Ok, Earl

I have a problem. The information on enrollment by grade has been removed from the report card on the web site.

Who's hiding this?

I assume you're talking

I assume you're talking about data from the state that is missing on their website? I don't know the answer there.

But, I just ran some numbers from state enrollment data I have and found that there are 104 high schools in the state out of 320 that have a 12th grade class that is 40% lower than the 9th grade class. So my question is if Rockwood has 40% less students in their senior class than in their 9th grade how do they make a dropout factory list and the 100 other schools don't?

I am not saying we shouldn't work to increase graduation rates, but it is unfair to say that two Roane County schools make a "dropout factory" list when fully 1/3 of the schools in Tennessee have the same (or worse) data.

We agree, essentially

I believe an accurate evaluation of the data will show exactly what you point out, Earl. But I don't think Rockwood (or Midway) is better than the AP story says, I think other schools are equally as bad.

I don't know where the data went on the report card web site, but we should easily be able to find enrollment numbers for the last four years by grade level, and the same for transfers in and out, GED's and Diplomas awarded.

Personally, I think we've short changed our schools for decades now and that there is an undercurrent of anti school sentiment in certain segments of our leadership.

This is destructive on a long term basis, as is now becoming evident, not just in these recent figures about which the press is hyperventilating, but with infrastructure choices and unwise expenditures of tax money.

ok, I backdoored the info...

2005-6 9th grade attendance for all Roane County schools....645

2005-6 Diplomas awarded (including Special Ed).....391

2005-6 12th grade enrollment....543...

So only 72% of Seniors graduated!

So County wide the grad rate even for Seniors was 72%

If RCHS grad rate was 88% that leaves some really low scores for the other schools. I haven't followed Midway, but I've joked about the Rockwood data for years now. I think the statement in the AP was that only 60% of entering Freshmen graduate and I believe that statement. It will be pretty easy to find out if it's true by looking at the 9th grade enrollment figures four years ago and then look at the number of diplomas issued last year.

Let's not hide from our problems...let's fix them!

Our schools.

Although it may not impact the percentages significantly remember students obtaining GED's and special education degrees do not count toward the graduation rate as computed by NCLB and I think that is being erroneously computed in the JH article. I’m also unsure if the JH article is accounting for the number of students who transfer to other schools (systems) albeit a mute point since most all schools experience such transitional patterns. Although that sounds defensive, it is additional information to be considered.
Regardless, we can always do better and if we were the top school in Tennessee, we should be striving to improve. I personally think we have the strongest central office staff we have had in many years and they exhibit much enthusiasm in elevating our academic standards. These are the folks supporting the individual schools and you will see today’s efforts payoff in the near future. While this article serves as a wake up call, there are more positives going on in our schools than roughly alluded to by this article. I’m no fan of NCLB the way it stands today and unfortunately, the numbers are impacted by NCLB.

Tyler and Earl

I appreciate both of you participating and your willingness to discuss these issues, and I hope everyone else realizes that there is courage involved in venturing into the public discourse arena. It would be so easy to just go dark and see if this goes away in the public's conciousness, like so many others seem to want to do.


I am well aware of all the factors affecting the graduation rates and all I ask for is honest data. We all know that if there are consistantly, year after year, twice as many freshmen as there are seniors in a high school, the graduation rate simply cannot be acceptable.

Too often we've seen the easy and dishonest path taken by fudging numbers and that has to stop. We'll all help fix things as long as we can face up to our problems and not hide them.

And remember...Even if the actual numbers are somewhere in between...They are still just not worthy of Roane County.

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