Number of grads drops

Study: Due to stricter guidelines, fewer students get diploma on time

Detroit Free Press

LANSING — Michigan’s tougher graduation requirements has led to slightly fewer students graduating on time, according to a study by the Michigan Consortium for Educational Research.

The stricter guidelines, called the Michigan Merit Curriculum, reduced the number of students who graduated in four years by 2 percentage points. The statewide average graduation rate fell from 72 percent to 70 percent in 2011 and the five-year drop out rate rose slightly.

“The merit curriculum also appears to have prompted some students to extend their stay in high school beyond the traditional four years, perhaps in an effort to meet the more rigorous curricular requirements,” the study found.

Researchers analyzed the students who entered high school in 2007, the first class of students who experienced the tougher guidelines starting in ninth grade. The guidelines were adopted in 2006 and require students to take Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, Biology I and either chemistry or physics as well as four years of English and two years of a foreign language. The study uses data on 700,000 students in that state’s public high schools.

“The findings of this first study are important and must be seen as a diagnostic tool for our teachers, administrators and education leaders,” said Michael Flanagan, the state superintendent. “The Michigan Merit Curriculum is the right direction and must be maintained. We need to delve deeper now and see how we can help schools deliver it successfully to every student in Michigan.”

The Michigan Consortium for Educational Research is a partnership between the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the State of Michigan. The results of its study are being released at a conference today at MSU.

“These findings are for the first set of students subject to the new requirements. The results may change as schools and teachers gain experience with the curriculum,” said Susan Dynarski, a U-M professor of public policy, education and economics.

While graduation rates fell slightly for students who entered high school with weaker skills, performance on standardized tests rose slightly for students who had strong skills upon entering high school, the study shows. However, all student showed declines in writing scores.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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