Wichita Schools Dispute Graduation Report

By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email
By: Jennifer Bocchieri Email

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Some mixed messages in the headlines lately about the Wichita School District. But a story comparing city schools' graduation rates to others across the country should actually something to be proud of rather than an embarrassment.

Nearly every four out of ten students here in Wichita do not cross the stage to get their diploma--that's according to a Cities In Crisis report. A troubling number--considering the average dropout rate from classrooms nationwide is 70 percent. But it's a report the district says should get a failing grade.

"I've got principals calling me and saying where is this data coming from," says Assistant Superintendent Denise Wren.

The data comes from America's Promise--a group put together by General Colin Powell to help students succeed. The report looked at school dropout rates from the country's biggest 50 cities during the '03 to '04 school year. Wichita's was listed as 59.6 percent.

But, in fact, USD 259 had a 69 percent graduation rate for the 2003 to 2004 school year. A rate that has now increased to more than 76 percent this past school year--thanks to a new program at North High that has helped keep hispanic males in school.

Since the auto tech class started the number who stayed through their senior year has doubled to 60 percent.

So why the disparity in numbers?

We tried to get ahold of those with America's Promise--but no one responded to our calls. The district is also trying to contact the group to make sure the right information gets out.

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