Oops, Hope You Didn’t Move Here for the Graduation Rates

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Get ready for plummeting graduation rates. Apparently, the measurement rates you see in newspaper reports each year have been erroneous. The formulas they use undercut graduates in many states. Some districts will see a 10%, even 20% drop in graduate rates while others will see no change.

The new formula will be more uniform and more accurately report the rates, claims U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Michigan made the switch in 2007 and saw a 10% drop. Florida remained the same and Kansas expects to go from 89 percent to 80 percent, with one district in the state anticipating a 20-point drop. Georgia said its overall rate – now at 80 percent – could plummet about 15 percentage points.

How could something so simple as counting non-graduates be misconstrued you ask. It was because of the generous “leaver” method.” The method, used by about half the states last year, works like this: If a school had 100 graduates and 10 students who dropped out from their freshmen to senior year, 100 would be divided by 110, giving the school a graduation rate of 90.9 percent.

The leaver method was helpful when the failing students moved since they did not have to be accounted for. With this method, it also didn’t matter if it took a student 6 years to graduate – that wasn’t accounted for.

Districts weren’t deliberately misreporting transfer students. They often couldn’t track students who moved, but that’s changed with computerized systems. Read here: Oops, graduation rates worse than we said

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