New Way to Figure Graduation Rates

October 11, 2011

Graduation Rates Changing

When high school graduation rates come out, you may be surprised to see they have dropped across the state. It is not that fewer students are receiving a diploma, but rather the result of a new way of figuring graduation rates in Kansas.
The 2010-2011 school year is the first year in which the U.S. Department of Education’s mandated four year adjusted cohort calculation method takes effect in all states. The mandate is an attempt to standardize graduation rate calculations across the country.

So what has changed? The new calculation tracks the movement of all students entering high school in a given year and determines how many graduate with a regular high school diploma four years later. The calculation adjusts the number of students who transfer in and out of the cohort during those four years. Previously, the graduation rate in Kansas looked only at the total number of graduates as compared to the number of graduates plus students who had dropped out in during their freshmen to senior year of high school.

The new four year adjusted cohort counts many students as “non-graduates” who would have factored into the graduation rate before. Those new non-graduates include students who do not graduate in four years, even if they are still enrolled in school, and students who transfer to a home school or private school that is not accredited by the state.

Since the way graduation from high school is calculated has changed, trying to compare this year’s graduation rate to last year’s would be like comparing apples to oranges. The 2010-2011 school year will be the base upon which future graduation rates can be compared. So don’t be surprised if the graduation rate at your high school is down, when actually it is just a new way of figuring graduation.

Ron Harbaugh
Communications Director
Topeka Public Schools

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