State Superintendent Tommy Bice unveiled Alabama’s new graduation rate last Thursday at the State Board of Education work session. In 2011, Alabama had a graduation rate of 72%.
This new rate is Alabama’s Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate, which is the number of students who graduated on time in 2011 divided by the number of first-time entering ninth graders four years earlier, adjusting for transfers in and out. Unlike other methods of calculating a graduation rate, this method tracks students individually from ninth grade onward.
Next year, ALSDE will also report a Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate, in addition to the four-year rate, in order to give a more complete picture of Alabama’s schools, according to the Alabama State Department of Education.
Students who do not graduate in four years are classified as “non-graduates” and generally fit into one of several categories:
- Still Enrolled: Students who did not graduate in four years (3%)
- Withdrawn, No Shows, Missing Records, etc.: Students who leave but never complete an official transfer or dropout record (14%)
- Completers: Students who exit school without a diploma, but with another document such as a GED or Special Education Graduation Certificate (3%)
- Dropouts: Students who have officially dropped out of school (8%)
Over time, many of the students currently classified as having withdrawn or being a “no show” could be moved into the dropout category, Bice noted during his presentation.
This change comes following a move by the National Governors Association to encourage all states to report graduation rates using the same method, beginning in 2010-11.
For more information on the new rate, check out this Birmingham News story explaining why the state’s graduation rate dropped, this Montgomery Advertiser story that looks more carefully at the River Region school systems rates, or this explanation of the new rates in the Advertiser.