State-Reported Graduation Rates at Variance with Independent Calculations

By Sterling C. Lloyd — May 12, 2010 1 min read

Under current U.S. Department of Education regulations, states can exercise considerable latitude in choosing methods to calculate high school graduation rates under the No Child Left Behind Act. Most states use calculation methods that tend to produce inflated graduation rates by including unreliable dropout data in their formulas. States may undercount dropouts because they lack the resources or data systems needed to accurately document all students leaving school without a diploma.

For the class of 2005, the most recent year of data available, state-reported graduation rates were higher than those calculated by the EPE Research Center using the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) in all but one state (Alaska). For more information on state formulas and the CPI, see Diplomas Count 2008.

In April 2008, Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings, proposed new regulations that would require all states to use a uniform method to calculate graduation rates by the 2012-13 school year. This action comes in response to concerns about the accuracy and uniformity of state formulas.

For more state-by-state data, search EPE’s Education Counts database.

NOTE: Alabama, Louisiana, and Massachusetts did not report graduation rates for the class of 2005.

SOURCE: EPE Research Center, 2008