Middle schools and "exit rates"

We're still processing all the great information from yesterday's D.C. Council Roundtable on Middle Schools. HyeSook testified and we circulated drafts of our upcoming issue brief on middle school. Bill Turque at the Post quoted from our report in this blog post yesterday: "Can D.C. keep middle schoolers from 'teetering on the ninth-grade cliff?" Thanks for the coverage, Bill!

Meanwhile, in another fascinating blog post,  our partners over at the Urban Institute are digging deeper into the so-called school "exit rate" -- the steady flow of children and families leaving DCPS schools and public charter schools. Interestingly, Urban found that the biggest exodus is in Ward 8. In terms of grade levels, the largest exit rates are in preschool/kindergarten and high school (grades 9-11), the latter representing the massive dropout problem.

Of course, we all know that D.C. is a transient town. We have people coming and going for various reasons, but one of the biggest factors is families moving out to the nearby 'burbs where schools are stronger or sending children to out-of-boundary schools. However, it is really interesting to see just how "mobile" our student population is. The exit rate in New York City is estimated to be 7 percent, and in Baltimore, it's 10 percent. In D.C., the rate is 20 percent.

The exit rate should certainly factor into DCPS' effort about "right-sizing" schools. To what extent will increasing resources to shrinking neighborhood schools encourage parents to keep their children there?

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