The State Board of Education is expected to announce its newly calculated high school graduation rates Tuesday, falling in line with federal mandates that will make it easier to compare how Georgia compares with other states.
In the past, each state had its own methods of figuring out graduation rates. But U.S. Department of Education regulations required states receiving Title I funds — that is, money for schools with a certain percentage of low-income students — to begin calculating and reporting the more uniform rate beginning with 2010-2011 data.
The biggest difference is that the state must start calculating from when the student begins high school as a freshman, rather than calculating backward from the end, when he or she graduates. In education circles, the former is called the “cohort” rate, while the latter is called the “leaver” rate.
Using the leaver rate, Georgia’s high school graduation rates are above 80 percent. Using the cohort rate, some reports say, the rates fall below 60 percent.
“This rate will reflect a uniform method for reliable comparisons among states,” said Matt Cardoza, a spokesperson for the State Board of Education. “The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years. The current graduation rate ... includes students who take more than four years to graduate from high school.”
Cardoza said the new graduation rate for federal accountability purposes goes into effect across the nation this school year (2011-12). Georgia is exempt this school year.
“Georgia is a state that has been granted permission to use a five-year rate for federal accountability purposes for 2011-12,” he said.
The new graduation rate, Cardoza added, will be reported online at the Georgia’s Department of Education website, www.gadoe.org, and on the State Report Card, at www.gaosa.org.
For more information about the new graduation rate, the state Department of Education has provided detailed answers available at, www.gadoe.org.