High school graduation rates decline rapidly

As+the+number+of+students+in+cohort+increase+per+school+year%2C+graduation+rates+decline.+The+correlation+between+the+two+exist+as+the+number+of+students+per+school+year+include+students+of+potential+language+barriers+and+homelessness.
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High school graduation rates decline rapidly

As the number of students in cohort increase per school year, graduation rates decline. The correlation between the two exist as the number of students per school year include students of potential language barriers and homelessness.

As the number of students in cohort increase per school year, graduation rates decline. The correlation between the two exist as the number of students per school year include students of potential language barriers and homelessness.

Photo Courtesy of Maryland State Department of Education

As the number of students in cohort increase per school year, graduation rates decline. The correlation between the two exist as the number of students per school year include students of potential language barriers and homelessness.

Photo Courtesy of Maryland State Department of Education

Photo Courtesy of Maryland State Department of Education

As the number of students in cohort increase per school year, graduation rates decline. The correlation between the two exist as the number of students per school year include students of potential language barriers and homelessness.

By Hannah Zozobrado, Arts Editor

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For the past 3 years, graduation rates among Montgomery County Public Schools have experienced a gradual decline. The statistics in the 2017-2018 school year have decreased to 88.4%, the lowest in graduation rates since the class of 2013.

The public education throughout Montgomery County high schools exceeds state and national averages. According to a Apr 19 Bethesda Magazine article, as of this year, Maryland is at an overall graduation rate of 87%. As of 2018, The lowest rate in graduations among students who had been first-time ninth graders in the same particular school year—also coined ‘cohort graduation’—is among Hispanics, however, this can be partially attributed to the flood of students with limited English expertise into MCPS.

The Maryland State Department of Education had provided data that shows the rate for on-time graduations have decreased by 1% in favor of a 5 year graduation. With this statistic, the correlation between foreign and unaccompanied minors in MCPS is prominent.

The Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion is meant for those who do not comply with the federal criteria necessary to receive a high school diploma. As of recently, it has been given to more Hispanics than any other demographic.

According to a May 2019 WAMU article, Hispanics/Latinos graduation rates decreased by 3% over the prior school year, with only 78.5% of Latinos graduating on-time in 2017. The declining rate is a result of the large masses of Latino students immigrating into the state of Maryland. This is due to the influx of unaccompanied minors—children who flee from the political climate and government instability in their native countries—from Latin America who are granted asylum and the right to public education in the state of Maryland. With the language barrier and struggle to adapt to the new environment and culture, the process to graduate in the expected 4 years is quite difficult.

In a May 2015 Washington Post article, Lauren Kafka, an ESOL teacher at Walt Whitman High School at the time, says the program is lacking in success and reliability because of how it sets up the students for failure in the long-run. With how easy the tests are, it becomes difficult to determine a student’s true ability in English.

“I’ve seen first-hand what negative effects test-preparation angst can have on even the most capable students,” Kafka said. “What’s surprising and ironic is that one standardized test that is too easy for many ESOL students to pass can have even more catastrophic academic consequences than tests that are far more difficult for them.”

Despite this, WCHS junior Lucie Chauvier, has been enrolled in the ESOL program in 8th grade upon her arrival in the U.S. from Belgium, also the same year as the Washington Post article. For the most part, her memories of the program are favorable.

“I really think it did help me a lot. We worked on the basics, then worked our way up,” Chauvier said. “I didn’t think the tests were too easy or had set us up for failure. It wasn’t meant to be a hard class—it’s designed to help you—so I think the class did what it intended to do.”

On the other hand, however, Chauvier yields to the idea of ESOL being difficult enough for it to be a factor in graduation rates.

“My only experience with English before my arrival was one year of English classes in 7th grade. It really didn’t help that much at all, learned it all when I moved,” Chauvier said. “The most difficult part in the beginning was just understanding everything, and the smallest things took a lot more effort to understand.”

ESOL is still seen as one of the main reasons for inhibiting Hispanics/Latino students and all other ethnic groups of different native languages from graduating on-time, even though other factors like student homelessness and poverty are also contributors. Non-English speaking students commonly need an extra year to meet all federal regulations necessary for a high school student, which explains the growing popularity of the five-year cohort plan.

However, the drop in the graduation rate is not solely due to language barriers, but can also be because of other reasons. One reason for the dropping graduation rate is the increasing number of students dropping out. As recorded by the Maryland State Department of Education, the 4-year Cohort Dropout Rate in 2018 had increased by 0.17% from 2017 to 8.38%.

Despite these statistics, MCPS does not lose hope. Statistics have proven that spontaneous changes in the school system occur every now and them, so any negative representation of MCPS is still prone to change and is not set in stone. For example, approximately 6% more Limited English Proficiency students graduated between 2017 and 2018.

With this paradox within the education system, MCPS remains hopeful that the statistics will improve over time and optimistically reflect the county’s academic successes and an increasing cohort graduation rate in the near future.

I learned it all when I moved,” Chauvier said. “The most difficult part in the beginning was just understanding everything, and the smallest things took a lot more effort to understand.”

ESOL is still seen as one of the main reasons for inhibiting Hispanics/Latino students and all other ethnic groups of different native languages.Non-English speaking students commonly need an extra year to meet all federal regulations necessary for a high school student, which explains the growing popularity of the five-year cohort plan.

However, the drop in the graduation rate is not solely due to language barriers, but can also be because of other reasons. One reason for the dropping graduation rate is the increasing number of students dropping out. As recorded by the Maryland State Department of Education, the 4-year Cohort Dropout Rate in 2018 had increased by 0.17% from 2017 to 8.38%.

Despite these statistics, MCPS does not lose hope. Statistics have proven that spontaneous changes in the school system occur every now and then. For example, approximately 6% more Limited English Proficiency students graduated between 2017 and 2018.

With this paradox within the education system, MCPS remains hopeful that the statistics will improve over time and optimistically reflect the county’s academic successes and an increasing cohort graduation rate in the near future.