Emails, Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, senior fellow in economic studies, the Center for Children and Families, the Brookings Institution, July 14-15, 2015

5 p.m.

The indicator being used by Perry for the 2002 is different from the indicator being used for the 2012.  The two indicators (cohort vs. AFGR) give very different results for Texas in a single year. Perry should have used the same measure to compare graduation rates across the years in question rather than one measure for the beginning year and another measure for the ending year.  His statement is misleading.  

 

 

Grover (Russ) Whitehurst

Senior Fellow in Economic Studies

The Center for Children and Families

The Brookings Institution

Washington, DC


From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin) [wgselby@statesman.com]

Sent: Tuesday, July 14, 2015 5:15 PM

To: Grover J. Whitehurst

Subject: Fresh fact-check inquiry

I’ve been trying to evaluate a fresh claim by Gov. Perry who recently said in a Washington, D.C., speech: “Texas’ high school graduation rate went from 27th in the country in 2002, to 2nd highest in the country in 2013.”

 

It looks to us like the 2002 ranking refers to how Texas then stacked up by its averaged freshman graduation rate while the 2012 ranking was referring to graduation rates as we discussed before (per this February 2015 federal chart). We wrote not long ago that Texas actually was third, tied with Wisconsin, for its graduation rate. Meantime, Texas ranked 22nd, tied with four states, for its 2012 AFGR.

 

What’s your opinion on Perry’s wording? I am particularly interested in the pluses and minuses of comparing the ranking based on the one indicator in 2002 to the ranking reflecting the other indicator for 2012? Maybe you have other thoughts as well—or other analysts you recommend we query? I hope to complete this fact check soon.

 

g.

 

W. Gardner Selby

Reporter / News

Austin American-Statesman

PolitiFact Texas

From: Selby, Gardner (CMG-Austin)

Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 10:59 AM

To: Grover J. Whitehurst

Subject: RE: Fresh fact-check inquiry

It occurs to me the measure used showing Texas No. 3 in 2012 did not exist in 2002. Thoughts?

12:14 p.m.

July 15, 2015

You are correct that the cohort grad rate doesn't exist for 2002.  But the measure that shows Texas ranked 22nd in 2012 (the AFGR) exists for 2002, so it would have been possible for the governor to have been consistent in the measure used to describe changes in Texas grad rates over time by using only the AFGR.

 

It is quite possible to switch measures when discussing different points on the trend line, as the governor did, because of confusion rather than intentional cherry picking of the numbers that make the progress in Texas look best.   That's because the National Center for Education Statistics publishes dueling statistics on graduation and completion rates in such a way that a casual reader can easily make the mistake of comparing incommensurate measures.  

 

Grover (Russ) Whitehurst

Senior Fellow in Economic Studies

The Center for Children and Families

The Brookings Institution