Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date, 2009

Curran, B.,
Reyna, R.
Paper/Research Report
Year Published: 2009
The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2005, all 50 state governors made an unprecedented commitment to voluntarily implement a common, more reliable formula for calculating their states' high school graduation rates by signing the National Governors Association (NGA) Graduation Counts Compact. The Compact contained four key commitments: 1. Use a common, four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate formula; 2. Build state data collection and reporting capacity; 3. Develop additional student outcome indicators; and 4. Report annually on their progress toward meeting these commitments.

Four years later, progress is steady. Twenty states now report that they use the Compact formula to calculate their high school graduation rate and publicly report the data. Five more states plan to report the Compact rate later in 2009, eight more in 2010, and 12 more in 2011. Three additional states have not indicated to NGA a date by which they will report using the Compact rate, but will presumably meet a new federal reporting deadline of 2011. Two others have requested a waiver extending the federal deadline beyond 2011. Twelve of the 20 states reporting the Compact rate also report that they use the Compact Rate to meet the graduation rate requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). 42 states now report they have the data systems needed to track individual students and more accurately calculate the high school graduation rate using the NGA Compact rate. Not all of those have tracked a cohort the full five years from eighth grade (which identifies first-time ninth graders) to high school graduation. Eighteen of the 20 states that are reporting the Compact graduation rate also report additional indicators of student outcomes. Nineteen of the 20 states report disaggregated graduation rate data for different student subgroups, such as minorities, disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities. As states continue working to implement the Graduation Counts Compact, and to meet the federal requirements for high school graduation data, the NGA Center for Best Practices will continue to track and report state progress. Modified author abstract.

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