Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Framing Dropouts

There were stories in newspapers across the country yesterday about an Associated Press/Johns Hopkins University analysis of Department of Education data about high school completion rates. The term the Johns Hopkins researcher uses for schools that graduate fewer than sixty percent of their freshman class is "dropout factory," which newspaper headline writers love. You can read the AP story here and see an interactive map that shows where the schools are located here. (I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a problem with the metaphor.)

2 comments:

Marilyn J. Hollman said...

The map is most interesting -- and revealing. Everyone's interp might not match mine, however.

With regard to the "dropout factory" title - - somehow I don't feel so senstive about it as I feel I should. Journalists are certainly not saints, but if one of our students coined such a phrase -- say about book bann-ers -- we might not be so quick to criticize. Clever words are clever words. Hurtful and not always in accord with one's own representations, yes, also that.

What can we do about the schools and their students -- and the ones no longer their students?
The press is right to raise the issue.

Tom Hanson said...

I reviewed the process used for labeling these schools dropout factories, the so-called “promotion factor,” at:

http://www.openeducation.net/2007/11/01/alleged-dropout-factories-cry-foul/

There is clearly an issue with students dropping out but the phrase dropout factory appears to have been coined to sell papers. In my piece I also take great exception to those who think NCLB will solve this issue.

Your readers may find the article of interest.

Tom Hanson
Editor
OpenEducation.net