President Obama says that Central Falls must close because only 7% of the students are proficient in math, and the graduation rate is only 48%. Sounds bad, right?
But the President has saluted a high school in Providence, Rhode Island, called "The Met" whose scores are no different from the scores at Central Falls High School. At Central Falls, 55 % of the kids are classified as "proficient readers," just like 55% at The Met. In math, only 7% of students at Central Falls are proficient in math, but at The Met--which the President lauds--only 4% are proficient in math. Ah, but The Met has one big advantage over Central Falls High Schools: Its graduation rate is 75.6%.
But figure this one out: How can a high school where only 4% of the students are proficient in math and only 55% are proficient readers produce a graduation rate of 75.6%? To this distant observer, it appears that the school with lower graduation standards rates higher in President Obama's eyes.
I've not literally tried to run the numbers, but it is pretty clear that RI's method of choosing the "lowest performing" high schools is heavily weighted toward graduation rates, and restricted by the federal government to only four year graduation rates. Of course, this is the easiest metric to manipulate.