Counting Dropouts | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Counting Dropouts

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Dear Ms. Jane Levine and Mr. Harold Henderson,

Your City File item "News flash: 5,600 elementary school dropouts returned to school with the stroke of a pen" (August 10, page 6) implies that the Consortium on Chicago School Research changed its calcula-tion of the dropout rate in Chicago's public schools at the request of the school system. As lead author of the June 2001 consortium report on drop-out rates ("Calculating a Cohort Dropout Rate for the Chicago Public Schools: A Technical Research Re-port"), I can confirm that was not the case. We decided not to include un-verified elementary school transfers in our calculations only after our own investigation concluded that the quality of those records was not suffi-ciently accurate to use. Including those students as dropouts would have distorted our calculations.

As noted on page 2 of our report, consortium and CPS researchers are working together to resolve technical questions that our work has raised. Ultimately, CPS and the consortium may issue joint recommendations regarding how dropout rates are calculated and quality controls for data collection. Until then, the dropout rates presented in our June 2001 report reflect what we believe are the most accurate measurements it is possible to provide, given the data available, in order to understand the extent to which dropout rates are declining or rising in Chicago's public schools.

Elaine Allensworth

Consortium on Chicago School Research

University of Chicago

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