Diploma Inflation

The standard diploma requires five “verified credits” (i.e., passing the course plus passing the End of Course (EOC) SOLs or approved substitute tests) in English, math, laboratory science, and history & social science, plus one further verified credit, presumably in one of those areas.   The advanced diploma requires three further verified credits.

We have seen that the 4-year cohort graduation rate statewide has risen in recent years at the same time that the EOC SOL pass rates have generally declined.

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The five-year graduation rates run a bit higher but show the same pattern (except, of course, that the data end a year earlier).

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Well, that’s the state.  Let’s look at some divisions.  All the graphs below show the 4-year cohort rates.

Let’s start with Fairfax where, for sure, all the students are above average.

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Hmmm. Excellent numbers but, again, declining pass rates and increasing diploma rates.  That’s easier to see if we just look at the subject average pass rate and the total diploma rate.

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Loudoun looks much the same.

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Then we have Richmond and peers.  (Notice the rate of standard diplomas higher than the advanced rate, contra the NoVa jurisdictions and state averages.)

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Finally, because I sometimes have readers there, Charles City and Lynchburg.

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There are some interesting differences here, particularly the vast differences between the NoVa jurisdictions and the old cities and the lower rates of advanced diplomas in those cities.

The variability of the small numbers in Charles City makes conclusions there problematic but otherwise the underlying theme is constant: Decreasing pass rates with increasing graduation rates.

These data surely allow VBOE to brag on the increasing graduation rates.  Whether they can brag that the kids are learning more is a question these data do not answer.

And, for sure, these data confound the notion that decreasing pass rates should lead to decreasing graduation rates.