Innovative districts say new data raises questions

Members of the Coalition of Innovative School Districts expressed some concerns about new information from the Kansas State Department of Education that shows individual high school graduation rates and how those students are doing after graduation.

Coalition members said during a meeting Thursday they wanted to make sure the data was complete and that people understood what the information meant.

Recently, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson released National Student Clearinghouse data that shows approximately 65 percent of Kansas students who graduated in 2010 enrolled in college the next year. Tracking those students six years later, only 40 percent had earned a degree or training certificate — far fewer than the 70 percent that will be needed to meet job requirements in the near future, according to a recent study. The school district level data has also been provided and scored to take into account various factors, such as student poverty.

But Kansas City USD 500 Superintendent Cindy Lane said the National Student Clearinghouse data doesn’t count students who earn certificates while in high school, which is a major emphasis of the Kansas City district. And others said some higher education institutions, such as Cloud County Junior College, weren’t part of the data.

The school leaders, however, said they looked forward to diving into the information further and sharing it with their school boards and leadership teams.

The coalition was formed in 2012 to allow up to 10 percent of the state’s school districts to opt out of most state laws, rules and regulations in order to improve student achievement. The seven member school districts are Blue Valley USD 229, Concordia USD 333, Fredonia USD 484, Hugoton USD 210, Kansas City USD 500, Marysville USD 364 and McPherson USD 418.

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