By Holmes Lundt, June 2012
Another bit of lore about BCSD you often hear is “We have a district that ranks in the top 5 regionally by graduation rates. In fact, we consistently rank at the top in the state of Idaho, with a graduation rate consistently over 90%”.
Graduation rate IS a great metric for how high schools deliver good outcomes for their entire student bodies, and it’s a closely-followed statistic in the education community. It’s also a statistic that traditionally has NOT had a uniform algorithm to track it, with different states and districts adopting various measures. That is changing for 2012, with a mandate under Race-to-the-Top regarding graduation rate, and a uniform measure for it being instituted nationwide.
The Gates Foundation (Bill Gates’ non-profit founded to advance education issues) has led the way in this effort. In fact, they’ve already been tracking graduation rates for districts across the US, using consistent measures for how kids enter high schools and matriculate. Would you be surprised to learn that, using the Gates national indices, the BCSD graduation rates haven’t been running above 90%, but rather in the low 70%s? Although some of this difference may be due to the variations in algorithms (The Gates Foundation looks at the entirety of the high school experience, over four years, of who entered and what their outcomes were for diploma, GED, special programs and dropping out.), the Gates Foundation does apply it consistently to all districts in the country. The net is that in 2008, while BCSD showed a graduation rate of 71%, the state average was over 75%, Pocatello was over 85% and Boise District was in excess of 84%. By nationally-accepted measures, the BCSD graduation rates are not over 90% and certainly not among the best in the state.
The national database searchable map is here:
The specifics of Blaine County School District’s graduation rates are here:
Because the databases are so interactive, it’s possible to browse and get a sense of trends by region.