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You won your primary. Now it is
time to make sure that your education talking points are shipshape. In this week's CommenTerry, I review three
important topics in education policy -- graduation rates, teacher pay, and
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- The North Carolina
History Project would like educators and homeschool parents to submit lesson
plans suitable for middle and high school courses in North Carolina
history. Please provide links to NC
History Project encyclopedia articles and other primary and secondary source
material, if possible. Go to the NC History Project website for further information.
- JLF's research newsletter archive rates high
on the scale of awesome.
Let's jump right in!
Graduation and dropout
I do not advise comparing dropout and graduation rates. The dropout rate is an annual figure, whereas
the four-year (also called an on time or cohort) graduation rate is a
cumulative statistic. As such, the
remainder of the graduation rate is not the dropout rate. For example, North Carolina's four-year graduation
rate was 77.9 percent last year. That does not mean that the state's dropout
rate was 22.1 percent. Rather, 22.1
percent of students who started ninth-grade in 2007 did not graduate in 2011.
The following scenarios may explain why dropout and graduate
rate comparisons are problematic. A high
school student counted as a dropout during one or more school years can still
graduate on time by returning to the public school system and completing credit
recovery courses until he or she reaches the equivalent grade level of the
cohort. Similarly, a student who did not graduate on time may not have dropped
out at any point in his or her high school career. Rather, he or she may have failed required
courses (or not completed course requirements) needed to graduate with his or
A case could be made that the 22.1 percent of high school
students who did not graduate high school in four years represents a "failure"
rate or "non-completer" rate. Call
it anything but the dropout rate.
Between 2005 and 2009, the John Locke Foundation published
four teacher pay studies. It is
2012. The data used in those reports is
out of date. My wife gets better with
age. The teacher pay reports do not.
We have been unable to publish a teacher pay study since
2009 because the U.S. Department of Education did not publish updated teacher
experience figures from the most recent School and Staffing Survey. Those figures were released in late 2011, so
JLF will likely publish an updated teacher pay report soon. Thank you for your patience.
According to the latest National Education Association (NEA)
figures, North Carolina ranks 44th in teacher pay. However, there is only a $7 per year
difference between average teacher pay in North Carolina and 43rd-ranked
Tennessee. In effect, the two states are
tied for 43rd in the ranking; the standard deviation erases the difference. Regardless, the NEA's teacher pay ranking for
North Carolina is consistent with their per-pupil expenditure ranking for the
state (see below).
NEA researchers determined that North Carolina was one of two
states (the other being South Dakota) to have no change in average teacher
salary between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. During this period, five states had teacher
salary decreases and five others had salary growth of less than one percent.
According to Rankings of the States 2011 and Estimates of
School Statistics 2012, an
annual publication of the National Education Association (NEA), North Carolina
ranks 42nd in total per-pupil expenditure (state, local, and federal funding) for
the 2011-2012 school year. The 2011-2012 ranking is higher than the state's
rankings for the 2010-2011 (45th) and 2009-2010 (43rd) school years.
Later this year, state education agencies will release
per-pupil spending figures based on actual public school district expenditures
and student counts for the 2011-2012 school year. Until then, the NEA's Rankings and Estimates publication is the best resource available.
I am the only person in America that hasn't seen "The Avengers."
During the 2011-2012 school
year, North Carolina public school districts employed nearly 94,000
teachers. Districts averaged one teacher
for every 14.6 students.
I would like to invite all readers
to submit announcements, as well as their personal insights, anecdotes,
concerns, and observations about the state of education in North Carolina. I will publish selected submissions in future
editions of the newsletter. Anonymity
will be honored. For additional
information or to send a submission, email Terry at email@example.com.
Education Acronym of the Week
EDDIE -- Educational Directory & Demographical Information Exchange
Quote of the Week
"It is not acceptable for North Carolina to lose so
many young people before they graduate from high school. The cost to these
young men and women and their families is high. The cost is financial, but it
is greater than that. The heaviest cost of all is the loss of human
accomplishment, of happiness, and of satisfaction.
We must send one clear message to our young people:
- NC Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson
introducing The Message:
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