Almost two-thirds of high school students in city public schools do not earn diplomas, giving Baltimore the third-worst graduation rate in the nation, according to a study released by the publication Education Week.
The study, which analyzed 2004 data, found that 34.6 percent of Baltimore high school students graduated four years after they began school. Detroit had the worst graduation rate, 24.9 percent, and Cleveland was next, with 34.1 percent.
Baltimore school officials disputed Education Week’s findings, as they did last year when the journal pegged the city’s graduation rate at 38.5 percent, ranking ahead of only Detroit, at 21.7 percent.
Baltimore’s graduation rate dropped nearly four percentage points from 2003 to 2004, according to Education Week.
Ben Feldman, who is in charge of testing for city schools, said Baltimore looks worse than it should in the rankings in part because it has a large number of transient students.
Christopher B. Swanson, the lead researcher for the Education Week study, acknowledged that its findings average about 15 percentage points lower than what states report as their graduation rates.
In December 2005, the National Governors Association signed a pact to implement a standard graduation-rate assessment, and the organization wants states to start using identification numbers to track students.