October 31, 2008
New federal regulations are going to force many states to change the way they report high school graduation rates. But not New York, a spokesman from the state education department, Jonathan Burman, said.
That’s because the state already uses a formula that Burman calls “substantially compliant” with the one that all states are now required to use to calculate their graduation rates. In fact, New York adopted the formula in 2004, even before the governors of all 50 states promised three years ago to work toward adopting it.
Not that the state hasn’t had its fair share of statistical tugs-of-war. Before last year, the city touted a graduation rate that was calculated using a formula that excluded special education students and included students who earned GEDs instead of regular high school diplomas. Critics said this rate was artificially inflated. Last year, the city DOE agreed to begin using the state’s graduation rate formula after negotiating an agreement that would allow August graduates to be counted in the four-year rate. The city was on the vanguard: the new federal regulations also permit states to include August graduates in their calculations.
Once all states adopt the same formula — only 16 use it right now — we’ll be able to see how the state’s graduation rate compares to the rest of the country’s, in addition to being able to measure the city against the state. That won’t happen until 2011 at the earliest, however; the new regulation doesn’t requires states to adopt the uniform graduation rate until they release accountability reports for the 2010-2011 school year.