Clarifying NGA Position on Graduation Rates

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To the Editor:

In his online Commentary "Why Not Count Them All?" (Sept. 3, 2009), Jim Hull misrepresented the National Governors Association’s position on high school graduation rates when he suggested that a concern expressed in an earlier Education Week article, "Rules Allowing Extended Time on Graduation" (April 1, 2009), indicated a lack of support by the NGA for extended-year graduation rates.

The NGA Graduation Counts Compact, signed by all 50 governors in 2005, committed states to implementing a standard four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, as well as to “additional indicators that provide richer information and understanding about outcomes for students … [including] five- or six-year cohort graduation rates, completion rates for those earning alternative credentials, in-grade retention rates, a college-readiness rate, and a high school dropout rate.” In addition, the association’s policy position ECW-13 says that “the use of a high school graduation rate in any accountability framework must serve as an incentive to promote state and local innovation to better engage and educate every student, and count all students who graduate from high school.”

While the governors are committed to a standard four-year adjusted cohort rate, they also believe it is critically important to collect, report, and analyze data that provide a complete picture of the outcomes achieved by all students. As is shown in the 2009 edition of the NGA’s annual progress report “Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date,” of the 20 states now reporting the Compact graduation rate, 18 are also reporting additional indicators of student outcomes, such as five- or six-year cohort graduation rates and a high school completion rate.

Bridget Curran
Program Director, Education
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 29, Issue 06, Page 31

Published in Print: October 7, 2009, as Clarifying NGA Position On Graduation Rates
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