A half-dozen sixth-grade teachers sat in a circle inside an empty classroom, poring over sheets of data showing their students’ attendance, grades and discipline. They were looking for children who were sliding, whose records indicated they were in danger of falling off the track to high school graduation.
Marissa Johnson urged them to highlight those students’ names in yellow. “Our goal is to identify students who need to finish strong,” said Johnson, an employee of Diplomas Now, a Johns Hopkins University program that helps teachers here, at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School, identify students in need of extra support.
The research is clear: If you want to know whether a child is on a path toward graduating or dropping out, standardized test scores are not very useful. Far more telling is whether that child comes to school regularly, behaves in class and earns passing grades.