44 States Now Using the Same Grad.-Rate Formula
The No Child Left Behind Act broke new ground in 2002 by mandating that accountability decisions under the law take into account high school graduation rates along with test-score performance when determining whether a school or district made “adequate yearly progress.” Initial federal guidelines allowed—and states made use of—substantial latitude when implementing key NCLB provisions related to graduation. In the subsequent years, states went on to employ a variety of noncomparable methods for calculating graduation rates and to set very different targets for the percent of students expected to finish high school with a diploma. Prompted by ongoing concerns about the accuracy and uniformity of these state-reported graduation rates, the U.S. Department of Education in 2008 issued new regulations that required all states to transition toward a uniform, cohort-based method for calculating graduation rates and to use that rate for federal accountability purposes.
These new rules were to be phased in gradually, with states starting by publicly reporting rates using the new cohort method and, eventually, fully integrating the new rate into school- and district-level accountability determinations. As of this school year, all states are required to calculate and report high school graduation rates using the same formula. Formal accountability stakes will be added next year.
To mark this milestone, the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center conducted an original 50-state survey to gauge state progress toward implementing the 2008 regulations. The center found that most states are on target to enact the graduation-rate requirements, although challenges do remain. The full report and detailed state-by-state tables are available online at www.edweek.org/rc .
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