Teacher claims GDOE’s dropout rates are inaccurate

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“Students who are no-shows are kept on our rosters,” – Concerned teacher.

Guam – Yesterday, the Department of Education announced their soaring graduation numbers and declining dropout rate.

However, one public school teacher is alleging that the numbers are inaccurate. A teacher who wishes to remain anonymous believes that the dropout rates GDOE provided does not accurately reflect the current climate for their school.

The teacher tells PNC: “Students who are no-shows are kept on our rosters…What is happening now is students withdrawn are put back into the system.”

In fact, the teacher says even deceased or graduated students are still kept on the roster.

“Teachers have to call parents when students are no-shows. I quit doing that. Why? I called a parent who informed me that a student (still on our roster) graduated a few years before the student was withdrawn from school,” says the teacher.

According to the anonymous instructor, the problem began when GDOE changed from a “no credit” policy system.

The old system gave students around six unexcused absences. Once a student exceeded that amount, they would receive no credit for the class. However, that system has changed.

“If they fail because they are never here okay, no credit,” explains the teacher. “[But now] some students still get work done in order to pass a class, but have excessive absences and get a passing grade. So, attendance doesn’t matter.”

GDOE notes that in SY 16-17 the dropout rate fell to 2.4% compared to the previous year’s rate of 2.8%.

But the teacher alleges that no-shows can’t be withdrawn without prior approval from the superintendent and says “we are not showing true dropout rates since [the superintendent] is controlling involuntary withdrawal.”

According to the Student Conduct Procedural Manual, the school administrator has the direct discretion to decide whether tardiness is considered as excused. In addition, students who are in attendance for less than 50% of their regularly scheduled class are still considered technically absent.

This struck a nerve with the teacher who points out that students can be late for half of a class period and still be considered tardy. “What are we teaching them about time management and the real world?” quipped the teacher.

Ultimately, GDOE says their Student Support Services Division has implemented protocols aimed at providing adequate interventions at the school level with the goal of keeping students enrolled in school.

Deputy Superintendent Erika Cruz says the extra support offered to students is sometimes all that stands in the way of keeping a child in school. She writes, “We hope to provide all the supports we can to keep our children in school and on the road to graduation.”

Information regarding GDOE graduation and dropout rates as well as numbers specific to each high school can be found in the Annual State of Public Education Report.