States Begin Reporting Uniform Graduation Rate, Reveal More Accurate High-School Completion Outcomes

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States Begin Reporting Uniform Graduation Rate, Reveal More Accurate High-School Completion Outcomes

July 27, 2011

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that this summer states will begin reporting high school graduation rates for the 2010-2011 school year using a more rigorous, uniform four-year adjusted cohort, first developed by the nation's Governors in 2005. Transition to the common rate reflects states' efforts to generate greater uniformity and transparency in calculating high school graduation data, and meets requirements of a federal regulation established in October 2008.

Since data reporting requirements were implemented under No Child Left Behind, states have calculated graduation rates using varying methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next. The transition to a uniform high school graduation rate requires all states to report the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, divided by the number of students who entered high school four years earlier, and accounting for student transfers in and out of school. States may also opt to use an extended-year adjusted cohort, allowing states, districts and schools to account for students who completehigh school in more than four years.

"A common rate will help target support so more students graduate on-time by using more accurate data," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "It will also encourage states to account for students who need more than four years to earn a diploma."

In addition, schools must maintain documentation for students who have transferred. States will continue to report graduation rates at the high school, district and state levels including rates for subgroups of students. The new measurement holds schools accountable for students who drop out and others who don't earn a regular high school diploma.

The Department anticipates that the more rigorous method will result in lower reported graduation rates, yet it will reflect a more accurate calculation of how many U.S. students complete high school. "Through this uniform method, states are raising the bar on data standards, and simply being more honest," added Duncan.

Graduation rates for the 2010-2011 school year will be reported throughout the summer and fall on a state-by-state basis. States are publicly reporting graduation rates using the new four-year adjusted cohort rate now, however rates resulting from this new method will not be used for accountability purposes until the 2011-2012 school year.