A truancy town hall in Dover scheduled for Monday night made me wonder if you could get truancy numbers from the state. And the answer is not literally — at least, I couldn’t find anything on the site — but you can get dropout rates (scroll down to see the links), which, I believe it is generally agreed upon, can be linked to truancy rates.
A look at the 2007-2008 numbers* shows you that:
- Crispus Attucks, York County High, York City School District and York County School of Technology have dropout rates in the top 20 of all schools in Pennsylvania.
- No other county school had a dropout rate higher than 1.6 percent (Eastern York), and that ranked 172nd in the state of the 617 public, charter and other school districts listed.
- Six York County public school districts — Southern York, West York, Dallastown, Central, York Suburban and South Eastern — had dropout rates of less than 1 percent.
- 603 students dropped out — including 117 from York City, 78 from York Tech, 59 from West Shore and 58 from CA.
But an observation from YorkCounts, which is sponsoring the town hall, is good to keep in mind when you’re looking at the numbers. In its “Stay in School Initiative Report to the Community,” it noted that the state’s dropout rates are compiled by counting the number of students who were enrolled on Oct. 1 and still enrolled on the following Sept. 30.
YorkCounts says that gives an incomplete picture of how many students are graduating within four years. Its research shows that between 1998 and 2008, 6,429 students dropped out of York County schools, and that in 2005-2006, the four-year graduation rate in York County was 78 percent.
PDE itself wrote a qualifier to the numbers in its introduction to the 2006-2007 dropout rates, noting that rates at a school like York County High could be inflated because “their students are at high risk of dropping out and many are attending school while working full time. The methodology of calculating dropouts must be examined to truly understand these high dropout rates. …”
YorkCounts says the town hall, titled “Kids, Truancy and a County at Risk,” will focus on the United Way of York County’s Stay in School Report as well as the work of Judge John Uhler’s Truancy Task Force (read more about the latter at the Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission site; click on “current JCJC newsletter.”)
*You can crunch your own numbers at the PDE Web site, but you have to have Microsoft Excel (or OpenOffice, which is free and has a good spreadsheet function, or some kind of spreadsheet capability). If you have neither but want more numbers, let me know in the comments section and I’ll post them as soon as I can.