Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Average CPS freshman: 19 absences, 2.6 F's

When I was in the CPS system, I never missed a lot of days. In high school I noticed how many days a lot of students will miss. Some didn't mind going to school at least 2 or 3 days a week. And yes I'm certainly talking about those not very serious students.

The ones who seemed to have a rough night the night before. The ones who don't mind starting fights in the hallway. The ones who might make fun of a person for taking his/her classes seriously and who's decent enough and indeed wants to make something of his/her life.

I would get on some of my classmates for getting Fs in the easiest subjects like World Geography. With great respect to my teacher in that course, who I assume is retired by now, there's really no excuse for getting an F in that course. That course was designed to be an easy A. Alas some don't even want that, especially if they're of the attitude that they don't have to do any work because it's so easy.

You want to know why some of them get Fs in easy classes? Because most of them wouldn't go to class!!!

Any all this to get onto this story from the Sun-Times...

The average Chicago public school freshman misses nearly a month of school and racks up more than two semester grades of F in their critical first year of high school, a new study by the University of Chicago indicates.

Those sobering new statistics emerged Tuesday along with this message for CPS freshmen: Grades and attendance count a lot. Both trump test scores and family background as the biggest predictors of high school graduation.

The study found that the average CPS freshman in the 2004-2005 school year missed 19.6 of a total 180 days of school. More than half of an earlier crop of freshmen with that attendance record did not graduate in four years.

"A 90 percent on a test is good, '' Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan said Tuesday. "But a 90 percent attendance rate is a recipe for disaster..''

To drive home the point, Duncan said that on Saturday, Sept. 8, he will personally knock on the doors of freshmen who cut the first week of class. Plus, he said, CPS officials will be adding a free car to the long list of attendance incentives they have been offering high school students and their families.

The study was unique in that it calculated class cuts in attendance rates, said researchers Elaine Allensworth and John Easton of the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research.

The constructive news was that students who struggle in elementary school can turn things around if they go to high school every day. Nearly 90 percent of freshmen who missed less than two weeks of school wound up graduating, regardless of their eighth-grade test scores, the study found.

But freshman absences and cut classes put even high-scoring eighth-graders at risk. Freshmen who missed four weeks of school wound up with two semester Fs, regardless of whether they walked in the door with high or low test scores.

At the same time, grades emerged as the strongest predictor of graduation -- far more so than family income or race or other factors analyzed in other dropout studies, Allensworth said.

The study found 95 percent of freshmen with at least B averages graduate on time. And, every semester F decreased a freshman's chance of graduating by 15 percent.

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