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HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com | Section:
Editorial


Jan. 17, 2001, 6:41PM

Dropouts: By any measure, HISD has problem on its hands

A recent Harvard University study says the Houston Independent School
District has the seventh-highest dropout rate among the
nation's urban school districts with around half of ninth-graders in 18
high schools studied failing to become seniors.

HISD officials dispute the figure and peg it lower, at around only 4
percent per year (less than 16 percent over four years).

A Texas Education Agency study strikes an unwitting compromise, putting
the number at roughly 22 percent.

All these figures are disturbing. For starters, if we can't even agree
on how to accurately calculate the dropout numbers, how will we get
a true picture of the problem?

Beyond that, two of the three calculations indicate that between ninth
and 12th grade, roughly a quarter or more of HISD students fall by
the wayside. Other studies tend to support these contentions.

Remember, these are lives we're talking about, not just statistics. And
the numbers are terrifying to contemplate.

The evidence suggests that, for all the good work that HISD rightfully
has been credited with in recent years, the dropout problem is a
persistent and serious one that calls for more straightforward
quantification and discussion.

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