States are beginning to report graduation rates using a more rigorous, uniform method, and the U.S. Department of Education is warning that it may result in graduation rates that appear much worse this school year than the previous year.
The method, developed by the National Governors Association in 2005 and written into federal regulations in 2008, is based on the number of students who graduate, divided by the number who started high school four years earlier, accounting for transfers. It will be used for accountability under the No Child Left Behind Act, the current version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, beginning in the 2011-12 school year as states set high-school-completion goals.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called it a more honest way of calculating how many students leave high school with a diploma.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2011 edition of Education Week as New Formula Likely to Affect States’ Graduation Rates