Pa. tracking system monitors dropout risk

    On a day when the Philadelphia School District was to announce which private entities will take over four failing high schools, new evidence reveals the disparities in graduation rates between urban and suburban schools.

    Pennsylvania’s Department of Education has a new way of measuring graduation rates that tracks individual students from ninth grade. The Philadelphia School District has used this method for five years.

    Lori Shorr, the city’s chief education officer, is pursuing Mayor Michael Nutter’s goal of reducing the dropout rate. Shorr said it’s a system that creates a more accurate and detailed analysis of who is dropping out.

    “Ninth year is the year where we lose most of our kids who are going to drop out, that’s the sort of analysis to pinpoint where you’re losing your kids,” she said. “That’s the sort of analysis that allows you to pinpoint where you’re losing your kids and it helps you determine your intervention.”

    Shorr said the district has responded by informing school principals which ninth-graders are at risk of not graduating.

    She said Philadelphia’s graduation rate is improving. But at 57 percent, it’s far below better-funded suburban districts. Radnor, for instance, tops 98 percent while 99 percent of Garnet Valley’s students graduate.


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