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Newswire: May 29, 2012

Vol. 14, No. 22

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE. It’s graduation time again, a time of joy and celebration of four years of hard work, diligence and perseverance for many. Your CER Newswire looks at some shining lights, as well as the stark reality faced by all too many who won’t graduate in four years this year.

AGAINST ALL ODDS. There’s no question that poverty and graduation are inversely related. A study by the University of Cincinnati makes this abundantly clear as does the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Yet, scores of schools, nestled in the heart of desperately poor neighborhoods, have beat the odds. How? By focusing on the student first and foremost and doing all it takes to keep kids in school while getting them up to speed to graduate prepared for college or the world of work. So signal the Pomp and Circumstance graduation march for this small sampling of charters, Catholic schools and online programs with high-flying graduation rates:

ON CHARTER SCHOOLS. Washington D.C. charter schools are celebrating their successes this year, notably the fact that they graduate more than 20% over the 58% rate of traditional district schools.

In Washington, D.C., hats off to SEED PCS of Washington D.C. for it has a 90% graduation rate and to Friendship Collegiate Charter at 85.8%. (Friendship graduates 22% of all DC students, and nearly half of all kids from Wards 7 & 8, the worst area historically for education in the nation’s capitol.)

In Arizona, a wave to BASIS Tucson at 100%. In New York a shake to KIPP NY at 93% (over the last nine years).

In Pennsylvania we salute Philadelphia’s Boy’s Latin and Mastery for surpassing even selective high schools in the city and graduating 75% of its kids on time, with more than 90% going to

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University of Chicago Study Finds Modest Learning Gains

A study conducted by the University of Chicago finds that while graduation rates have had significant growth, learning gains have been modest, racial gaps have widened, and many students have academic achievement levels below what is necessary to go to college. The report utilizes data that has been tracked since 1998, when U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett proclaimed Chicago’s schools to be the worst in the nation.

The study explains that the higher graduation rate can be attributed to a lowering of standards over the last 20 years. A Chicago Tribune editorial doesn’t think the study’s results are surprising, saying “Illinois sets the bar very low compared with other states, and in recent years has even lowered passing scores, creating phantom gains. Yes, we’ve dumbed down our tests. This should not come as a shock.”

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