Today the U.S. Department of Education released provisional school-level graduation rates for 2010-11 – the first school year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure for reporting high school graduates. The data release furthers the Department's efforts to provide transparent information to parents and students about their schools and ensure all schools are preparing students for college and careers.
Previously, the variety of methods states used to report high school graduation rates made comparisons among states unreliable. While the new measure is not comparable to previously reported rates, it provides a more accurate snapshot of high school graduation and can inform schools' efforts to improve going forward. States, districts and schools can use the new, common metric to promote greater accountability and to develop strategies that will reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates in schools nationwide.
"Having good information is critical to making good decisions, and these high school graduation rates are a vital tool to help parents and school leaders make useful comparisons of student growth and success," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These data will also help state, district and school leaders better gauge progress and support their work to help more students graduate on time, ready for college and careers."
The transition to a common, four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate reflects states' efforts to create greater uniformity and transparency in reporting high school graduation data, and it meets the requirements of October 2008 federal regulations. A key goal of these regulations was to develop a graduation rate that provides parents, educators and community members with better information on schools' progress while allowing for meaningful comparisons of graduation rates across states and school districts. The new graduation rate measurement also accurately accounts for students who drop out or who do not earn a regular high school diploma.
Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, graduation rates calculated using this new method will become a key element of accountability systems for states, including those that have been approved for ESEA flexibility. States report these rates to the Department, and the data set released today will be updated in the coming months as additional states report high school graduation rates and the Department works with states to finalize their data. Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Puerto Rico have timeline extensions to calculate the new rate, and three additional states – California, Delaware and South Dakota – submitted data which have not yet been validated. Those states are not included in today's release, and at this time, the Department does not have a national rate.
Today's release follows the Department's release of 2010-11 state-level high school graduation rates last fall, which can be found by visiting http://www.eddataexpress.ed.gov/. To view the data released today, click here.