Many researchers have carried out independent studies to understand the African American graduation crisis in the U.S. These researchers have reported significantly lower rates of African American students graduating compared to those officially reported by Texas Education Agency. These are evidenced by various statistics indicating the contradiction hence efforts have been made to combat these disparities.
It is very vital that the nation’s graduate rate is measured by considering the number of students who graduate in comparison to those who don’t. Ruth Neild and Liza Herzog’s recent nationwide study of dropout/graduation rate indicate that almost half of the nation’s dropout rate is constituted by 15% of the nation’s high schools. (Balfanz 1).
The National U.S graduation rate as documented by both the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) have been in contention on the exact national graduation rate and what system of evaluation is applied to reach at the said figures. Issues have also come up on which evaluation system best gives precise results. (Holland, High School Crisis: 3 in 10 Drop Out)
Recent studies in the graduation Crisis.
Coppola in his Texus graduation rate report indicates that approximately 67% of all students are graduating statewide whereby, just 60% of them are the African Americans but the contradicting Texus Education Agency Official report indicates that 81.1% of the African American population graduates yearly.
Other reports based on research conducted by Magnus Lofstrom and John Tyler which used longitudinal data to calculate how many students enrolled in a Texas public school at age 15 through 20years confirmed recent graduation rates of 67% statewide. ( Losen, Orfield, and Balfanz, “Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in Texas ”).
It is argued that the official graduation rates reported by the state are unjustifiably inflated by these stainable exaggerated figures by removing too many students from the cohort count.
Efforts have been made to confront this graduation rate crisis through publications by various scholars who are interested in combating this crisis.( Losen, Orfield, and Balfanz, “Confronting the Graduation Rate Crisis in Texas”).
A researcher now at the University of Texas analyzed six years of longitudinal
Student-level data from a large urban district in the state, and found out that according to his Urban Minority students reports in 2001 graduation rate stipulated that 32% of students graduated yet only 39.4% African Americans graduated within five years.
He compared this to the 49.4% represented by Asian American students who marked the highest percentage of graduation rate. They were followed by the white students whose graduation rate was at 43.3%. (Vasquez, “urban minority students”).
Low Graduation Rate of African Americans
The research findings indicate that the 2000 nationwide high schools do not have proper mechanisms of promoting students. Actually the senior students are about 60% relatively fewer than their juniors.
The study reveals that half of these schools are located in urban areas with the remaining located in the South and the Southwest though it is still unknown as to whether the national graduation rate has improved, declined or stagnated. What has certainly doubled is the number of schools with poor systems of promoting students. (Balfanz 1).
The main contributing factor to low graduation rates of African Americans is poverty. The study suggests there is an almost linear correlation between poverty level in a school and the low graduation rates especially in grades nine and twelve.
In some states, the low class is promoted to grade 12 at the same or relatively higher rates than the whites. Such is in cases where the minorities attend middle to high class schools. However, only a few minorities can manage to do this. Almost half of the African American students go to schools where there is extreme poverty and low graduation rates.(Balfanz 2).
Low graduation rates among the African Americans is therefore a social problem since in America, the only remedy out of poverty is a good education. What is shocking is the fact that these schools do not benefit from Title 1 funding, the federal program meant to help them. It has also been established that many dropouts in these cities leave school with few credits having failed in their classes.
Then there are those who just dropout as a result of boredom, hopelessness or misfortune. Interestingly, the analysis also shows that the poor dropout rate however is not only because of the students, their teachers and even the school administrations also influence the drop out rate. (Balfanz 2).
Many schools are under resourced and at the same time racial and economic segregation is still rampant. There is a dire need for more adequate learning and support from the elders.
This, matched with proper combination of subjects in the hands of caring teachers is a good recipe for success. Students with special needs should be given extra coaching. This calls for extra commitment from both the parents and the teachers at large. The study finally indicates that dropout begins as early as puberty. (Balfanz 3).
The American High School Graduation Rate: Trends and Levels.
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) came up with rules and regulations that made the number of dropped out students in United States decline. According to the statistics, the United State Graduation rate had greatly increased by 66 to 88 percent.
There is a large number of white students as compared to African American in the U.S. This is as a result of the change in the school policies. (Heckman and LaFontaine 3).
In year 2002, there was an increase in the population growth rate where by most of the men who had been involved in criminal activities were especially the black Americans between the ages 18-24.
This contributed to the high drop out rate of African Americans since according to the statistics a large portion of the students who had dropped out of school were in prison. This consequently led to a decline in the number of the student graduates, which had been greatly affected by the increasing crime level. (Heckman and LaFontaine 8).
The number of the black American high school students who had dropped out was the highest as compared to the white Americans. The number of the white high school graduates who had attained diploma was higher than the number of the African American high school students who had graduated and attained their high school diplomas.
This lead to an increase in the number of the people who were expected to go for further training. (Heckman and LaFontaine 12).
Most of the people who were recruited in the military were high school students. This is because there is a large number of high school dropouts. This however does not greatly affect the population rate of high school graduates because the military segment is small.
Further still the African American student drop out was high because some of the drop outs documented were between the ages 18-to-24 but they were immigrants who did no go to school in the United States. This impacted the general growth rate of the American population and as a result the number of the high school graduates increased as compared to the past years. (Heckman and LaFontaine 12).
When the NCES was estimating the United States high school graduation rate, they came up with two categories of the high school graduates. The categories were a “completer” and a “graduate” where by a “completer” was a student who either graduated in high school or attained a GED certificate while a “graduate” was a student who attained a traditional high school diploma from an accredited high school program. (Heckman and LaFontaine 5).
GED was started as small-scale program that caters for the veterans who dropped out of high school to work in the armed forces during the Second World War. After some years, GED was changed to be a high school graduating for the school-age youth. The estimated graduation rate is biased with an increase of 7.7 percentage points when GED students are counted as high school graduates. (Heckman and LaFontaine 10).
In year 2002, there was an increase of the high school graduates. The final census estimate for the high school graduates had added up to 77.1 percent as compared to the other years. So the American National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) had worked very hard to develop various high schools in America.
The decrease of high school graduates had affected the growth of the college education in the United State. The NECS had to make sure that number of high school dropout had to decline because they wanted to improve the skills of the future workforce. (Heckman and LaFontaine 12).