Cool people you should know: Russ Rumberger
Check out his recent study on a critical question - how does the high school a student attends affect her test scores and likelihood of dropping out or transferring? Despite the recent media frenzy about "dropout factories," Rumberger determined that after you control for student background characteristics, schools don't vary substantially in their dropout rates. However, there are big differences between schools in their transfer rates. Perhaps most relevant for NCLB, he found that, "Schools that are effective in promoting student learning (growth in achievement) are not necessarily effective in reducing dropout or transfer rates. " Rumberger advises that school performance should not be judged only by test scores, but by dropout and transfer rates as well. Multiple measures, anyone?
Rumberger and Greg Palardy's paper, "Test Scores, Dropout Rates, and Transfer Rates as Alternative Indicators of High School Performance," published in the American Educational Research Journal in 2005, is available at his website. California readers, you might also be interested in his study on the California dropout problem.