The US Department of Education just release some “good news”. The national graduation rate is at an all-time high and the achievement gap between white students and student of color has narrowed. Arizona educators would be well-advised, however, to take the extra minute and click on the link to the National Center for Education Statistics. This table outlines each state’s four-year graduation rate and includes disaggregated data regarding race, ethnicity, and demographics.
Arizona students as a whole are still trailing around 7.5 percentage points behind the rest of the nation. But given the abysmal state of public education funding in Arizona, this doesn’t sound too bad. What should strike any Arizona educator who reads this is the percentage of Limited English Proficient students who are graduating in four years. 18.1%. This makes absolutely no sense given that almost 10% of AZ students are limited English proficient. California, which has a similar percentage, sees 65% of its LEP population graduate within four years.
So, in the words of Marvin Gaye, what’s goin’ on?
As the AZELLA testing coordinator at my small school, I know I spend about 8 hours each summer taking online trainings in preparation for the next year’s round of testing. I spend another 2 hours hand-entering my kids’ placement scores, and another 10-12 hours administering a fall and spring test.
That’s close to 24 hours focusing on a testing program designed to help LEP students. I wonder what would happen if I spent those same 24 hours actually helping my LEP students do their homework, prepare for upcoming exams, write papers, etc. It’s hard to say how this shift would play out in terms of numbers, but with an 18% four-year grad rate, it can’t get much worse.