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Release of High School Graduation Rates
INFORMATIONAL LETTER: 5
TO: Superintendents of Schools
With this letter we are releasing the 2008-09 graduation rates for all public high schools and private 60% publicly funded schools in Maine. These rates use the new, federally mandated, Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate method, described below and in Administrative Letter #14, dated October 1, 2009.
All high schools have previously seen their own 2008-09 graduation rates and worked with Department staff to ensure that all data and coding for students are accurate.
This letter summarizes the new method for calculating the graduation rate, how the new method differs from the old, limitations of the new method, transition and training, and provides additional information.
The web page referenced below at “View the data” provides more detailed information for school personnel, links to this letter and the press release, information on dropout rates, and more resources.
Overview: Maine high school graduation rates
Calculating the federal ACGR graduation rate
The formula is:
On-time graduates by year XXXX
Multiply the equation above by 100 to get the percent.
How the new method differs from the old
Comparing the 2008-09 rate to the 2007-08 rate
Statewide, the reported graduation rate for 2008-09 is 80.4% - down from 83.5% reported in 2007-08 using the previous method. This does not mean the graduation rate is dropping. Rather it is a reflection of the changes in the way we now calculate the rate.
Limitations of the new method
The Maine Legislature passed a law in early 2010, sponsored by Sen. Justin Alfond, D-Portland, requiring that all high schools graduate at least 90 percent of their students by 2016. Among other provisions, the law called for a group of educators and others to develop a plan for expanding the graduation rate formula to reflect those students who achieve Maine’s Learning Results standards through multiple pathways and over more than the four year time frame – students who are not captured in the four-year ACGR rate. This already-convened group is considering, among other issues, whether or not to count alternative diplomas, GEDs, students who graduate in five or six years, and what to do when a student has been expelled and returns to school.
Even after completing this work, Maine will still be required to report the universal ACGR rate to the U.S. Department of Education for accountability purposes, regardless of what expanded formula Maine might use for its own purposes.
Transition and training
First, Maine now has four years of good quality data and we can produce an accurate rate. In addition, Maine Department of Education staff spent hundreds of hours with school personnel reviewing data, helping them to accurately record every student. This experience, coupled with extensive training for school personnel over the coming year, will ensure that graduation rates for schools are accurately reflected in future reporting to the federal government.
We will conduct an informational session online (and recorded for later review) related to the calculation of graduation rates. This session will include information on:
To register for the live session, which is planned for July 26, 2010 at 11 a.m., or to view a recorded version once it is available, visit: www.maine.gov/education/lds/training.html . To register for the live session, click the “Registration” link, and then the “Policies/Procedures/Communication” category link. The “2008-2009GraduationRateReview” option is at the end of the list.
Graduation rate and federal accountability
Note that there is a waiver provision that will allow schools that dip below the 80 percent graduation rate for 2008-09 only to still show “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) in federal reporting if their graduation rate under the old method would put them over 80 percent.
View the data
Questions and Answers
What is the dropout rate?
A "dropout" means any person who has withdrawn for any reason except death, or been expelled from school before graduation or completion of a program of studies and who has not enrolled in another educational institution or program. [20-A MRSA Sec. 5102]
The dropout rate is the percentage of students in ALL high school grades who stop attending school in a specific year. Thus the dropout rate includes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. It is not class-specific.
Is the dropout rate the inverse of the graduation rate?
No. The ACGR graduation rate is calculated for one cohort – the group of students who enter 9th grade at the same time, regardless of when/if they graduate. The dropout rate includes students in any class that drop out in a single year. If you add the graduation rate plus the dropout rate it will not equal 100 percent.
Isn’t every student counted either as a graduate or a dropout?
No. A student who takes time off and then graduates after five years of high school is not counted in the four-year ACGR graduation rate and is not a dropout. A student could also attend high school for five or six years – until they are too old to attend – and never graduate; this student would not be counted as a graduate or a dropout.
So how does the dropout rate relate to the graduation rate?
Obviously there are connections, but they are calculated separately and for different purposes.
What happened to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) rate?
There was movement by many states, including Maine, to a graduation rate developed by the National Governor’s Association. However, the U.S. Department of Education determined in late 2008 that all states must use the ACGR method which is similar, but not identical, to the NGA rate.
For more information on graduation rates, please contact Rick Bergeron, statistician and enrollment consultant, at 624-6799 or Richard.Bergeron@Maine.gov or Rachelle Tome, Title I director, at 624-6705 or Rachelle.Tome@Maine.gov .
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