The following is a letter to the editor from the Waltham Public Schools District:
Recently, Information available through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Web site indicates that our dropout rate is quite high.
In reviewing that information, we have discovered ongoing errors in reporting data to the state. Our dropout rate is actually much lower than presented. We have immediately addressed this issue with new protocols for working with data that is uploaded through the state’s student information management system.
We want to assure you and the greater Waltham community that Waltham High School has a wide variety of opportunities and supports in place to help personalize learning for all of our students. From our house system, to our guidance counselors, school adjustment counselors, conflict resolution counselors, strong academic programs, a wide variety of fine and practical arts, nine vocational technical offerings, special education programs, athletics, clubs, and activities. There is something here for every student.
We are proud of the effective work of our staff and students at Waltham High School. We consistently strive to improve upon and respond to the needs of our students as we prepare them to be career and school ready.
Waltham has a strong educational heritage of innovation, inclusion and support. Be assured that we will continue to build on that tradition as we strive to provide a successful high school experience for all of our students.
EDITOR'S NOTE: BELOW IS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND DATA PROVIDED AS PART OF THE LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
It’s important that our community is given accurate information about graduation rate and dropout rate statistics. Local data collection and reporting inadequacies have resulted in this information being presented incorrectly. From the DESE website, the Waltham Cohort 2010 Graduation rate information revealed that 71 out of 430 students were considered to have dropped out, or 16.5%. This number is quite high.
However, in reviewing that state data, our updated student information program records reveal a very different picture. Of those 71 students who were listed as drop outs:
- 38 students actually graduated with the class in June or during the summer following graduation.
- 5 students actually transferred to other schools
Therefore, there were actually 28 students who dropped out from the original cohort of 430 students or 6.5%.
This data shows that the cohort dropout rate was actually 6.5% rather than 16.5%
Adding confusion to the process of understanding this is the fact that the DESE maintains two different dropout rates. The other dropout rate statistic is listed as the school dropout rate. Information on the school dropout rate for Waltham High School in 2009-2010 revealed that 88 out of 1414 students were listed as having dropped out or 6.2%. Using the updated data from above 45 students should have been listed as dropping out rather than 88. This updated statistic is 45 out of 1414 students or 3.2%
This data shows that the school dropout rate was actually 3.2% rather than 6.2%
Susan M. Nicholson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Gregory A. DeMeo
Principal of Waltham High School