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TO:                  Superintendents of Schools and Private School Head Administrators

FROM:            Susan A. Gendron, Commissioner

DATE:             May 5, 2006


***** Please share with Principals ******

Governors from each of the fifty States have adopted a common definition for their high school graduation rate.  In addition to the fifty governors, twelve national organizations have signed onto Graduation Counts: A Compact on State High School Graduation.  Through the compact, governors and organizations represented on the National Governors Association Task Force on State High School Graduation agreed to implement the following recommendations:

For Maine, this means that beginning with the class of 2010 entering in September 2006, we will use the following four-year, adjusted cohort graduation rate:

Graduation rate = on-time graduates in year x
divided by first time entering 9th graders in year (x-4)
plus transfers in minus transfers out   ­

Graduates are those earning a standard diploma. Students earning modified diplomas, such as a special education diploma, count as graduates if the modified diploma is the standard that the State and the school system set for the student in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), for example.  Certificates of completion, the GED, or other alternatives to a diploma, including special education students who receive a non-diploma credential, also are not graduates under this graduation rate formula.  Maine intends to collect data on these students, to include them in complementary completion rates.

On-time graduation for most students is four years.  However, special education students with IEPs, limited English proficient students, and others whom the State expects to take five years, or six years, are assigned to the appropriate cohort based on the time allowed for the individual student.  The decision for extended time must be data-based and the student must have a personal learning plan that contains goals and a process for documenting progress.

 For the coming school year, schools will monitor the academic achievement of grade nine students in preparation for determining the appropriate cohort by the end of ninth grade.  Factors to consider may include but are not necessarily limited to: number of core courses (English, math, social studies, science) passed/failed, standardized test results, and teacher/guidance counselor recommendations.

We know that Maine is well-poised to implement this expectation and we are pleased that there will now be consistency in reporting across States.  To help Maine high schools make the transition to this process, I will be providing a teleconference for Superintendents and Principals, including an e-mailed PowerPoint presentation, to explain the process in more detail and to provide a timeline for each part of the transition. Throughout the year, the Department will be available to provide technical assistance to schools as we move forward with this much needed adjustment.

This teleconference will take place on Monday, May 15, 2006, from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.  We ask that all superintendents, middle school, and high school principals participate if possible.  Because access is limited to 125 lines, we ask that neighboring SAUs who can meet together at one of the SAUs do so, to enable as many as possible to participate.  Those who cannot participate at this time can contact Jackie Soychak at 207-624-6734 or  to request that a repeat conference call be scheduled.

To access the teleconference, please dial:

1-866-704-2476 or 1-719-785-9416

The passcode is: 129543

Your role in implementing the standard four-year, adjusted cohort graduation rate is critical. We thank you for your help with the important task of gathering this data in a way that will allow us to accurately report the graduation rate for Maine.