Please Sir, More Grad Rates…Now, With Free Bonus Grad Rate Politics And The Plan To Deploy The Piscalnator!

The Ed Week grad rate map makes the cover of USA Today (the low-fi state map at right, not the high tech county one)…along with a big story by Greg Toppo in the top spot. I think this means this debate is mostly over. Game, set, and match to Swanson et al…I’m not particularly troubled by that since I think their approaches are the best at hand (though not foolproof), but it means someone wasted a lot of money trying to debunk them…If you don’t feel like wading through this paper (pdf) to learn about the methods, Sherman Dorn cribs them for you at his place. This matters on substance because until states get their act together on data, there are real implications stemming from this data. On politics, it’s Silence on the Scams. You can’t help but notice that this is one where the Ds have a pretty clean shot at the Bush Administration for really dropping the ball on this issue and yet it’s Democratic special interest groups gumming up the works. If Democrats can’t criticize Republican education policies except where it carries no adverse consequences or means no bad PR for adults in the system there isn’t going to be a lot to say, is there? Unless it’s the fault of the kids…

Update: 8-Mile Madness! AFTie Ed weighs-in and alludes to the Detroit number. As I said, it’s not believable. But I think it’s going to become the thread folks pull on going forward in an effort to debunk Swanson even though it’s (a) one estimate in 50 for the big cities and one datapoint nationwide and (b) anomalous because of what’s happening in Detroit. Behind the scenes the efforts to trash Swanson are already in full swing and it’s not even noon! Worth remembering that nothing is going to be perfectly plum here, the issue is what’s the best method at hand in a messy data environment. Swanson et al lay out their argument here, worth re-reading as the decibels go up.

Update II: Press round-up, here’s a sample: School Me was exactly right on the LA angle but what the mayor really ought to do is call Piscal and turn him loose*! NYT here and CSM here. Indy Star here, they’ve been on this for a while, Philly Inq. here, and St. Paul Pioneer Press focuses on the racial disparities. *The plan is elegant in its simplicity: A bus ticket to Sacramento, Piscal himself, spreadsheets of grad rate data, a bottle of whiskey, and a thermos of coffee. Trust Eduwonk, it’s foolproof. Mayoral control guaranteed within 72 hours.

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