How many American students are actually earning a high school diploma? With new reports out this week by the National Center for Education Statistics and Education Week, the answer depends on who's crunching the numbers. Some say 70 percent, others say it's closer to 83 percent, while the U.S. Census reports that it's 75 percent. The differences are even greater between what some states report and other analysts calculate, a difference that can be more than 20 percentage points. Find out why the experts disagree and what you can do at the local level to calculate graduation rates that tell the whole story. Patte Barth, director of NSBA's Center for Public Education, answered questions about these and related issues addressed in a new CPE report on Thursday, June 22, 2006.
Can a student take more than four years to complete high school and not be counted as a drop out?
What is the value of national statistics if systems for gathering this data are incompatible or inconsistent? Wouldn't graduation rates by state be more accurate and informative? State-by-state comparisons might better highlight problems in gathering this data, the differences between state funding systems, socioeconomic conditions, administrative approaches, and curriculum and instruction.
I commend you on your effort to set the record straight on this matter. Please provide empirical data which give facts as to the numbers over the last three years: 1. Graduates who received diplomas 2. Graduates who received certificates 3. Graduates who were considered special needs who received certificates as opposed to those who were not who received certificates. In order for us to address the problem, we need to have accurate data and admit the status. Again, I commend us on the effort.
If you base graduation rate on the number of 9th graders from 4 years previous, don't you artificially lower the graduation rate for students who transfer, go to a private school, go to home school, etc?
Are you saying that we are not really tracking individual students but using the number of graduates and the number of 9th graders 4 years earlier even though they may not be the exact same students?
Are states required to maintain statistics on the number/percentage of students who start ninth grade and graduate from twelfth grade? Where can we find these statistics?
What are we trying to prove by the graduation rates? Are comparisons between states valid when all states do not have the same requirements for graduation? Why shouldn't a student who took 5 years to complete HS be counted?
What about the disparity in graduation rates amongst various ethnic groups? The differences in reporting of these rates can be huge.
Are the grad rates that NCLB requires and that can be found in individual state's AYP reports calculated on the basic formula stated earlier or are individual states allowed to submit that rate based on their own form of calculation?
How does the system account for expelled students who don't return after expulsion?
What is the best approach for board members to take in communicating with their communities about the disparities in graduation rate reporting?
What is the NCLB formula for graduation rates?
Whether the "correct" graduation rate is 70% or 85%, the rate is way too low. Instead of arguing over the measurement method, shouldn't we be trying to fix the problem and how can we do that?