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Less than a quarter of students who receive high school diplomas (or only 23 percent) end up graduating from a post-secondary institution within six years, according to the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent for Education, which used tax money to give us that bit of sad news.

So now, DCPS officials plan to use more public funds - in this case, federal grant dollars - to track D.C. grads to determine whether students tended to their post-secondary educations, what career choices they made and whether they took remedial courses.

What a waste.

If there were a tracking system worth funding, it’s a system that would track DCPS students from teacher to teacher and school to school.

That would truly be an eye-opener, wouldn’t it?

The results over, say, three to five years, would be enough to inform parents, unions, policymakers and the lawmakers about who really is on the teaching-and-learning path and who is not, and which schools are the best at achieving both.

In fact, where a child’s school is located is an important determinant on the path to successfully teaching and learning, according to a D.C. Kids Count study that looked at a neighborhood’s economic status.

“When DC CAS proficiency is stratified by ward, students attending schools in [wealthier] Wards 2 and 3 have much higher scores than peers in [the poorer] Wards 7 and 8,” the study said. “Research suggests that student mobility is high and that D.C. students who attend out-of-boundary public schools outperform similar students who attend in-boundary public schools in both reading and math. Students from lower-income families seem more likely to attend out-of-boundary schools: only 33 percent of students residing in census tracts with median household income lower than $40,000 attend their assigned traditional public school, while that number is 73 percent for those with census tract median incomes higher than $60,000.”

Indeed, more and more parents are finally realizing there is more than one way to skin a cat.

That is why the charter-school waiting list is 17,000 strong and why DCPS keeps losing students to its primary competitor.

Even the poorest of the poor are realizing there is more than one way to skin that cat - even when the Obama administration is holding the bag.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at