There are multiple ways to measure graduation rates.
In 2012, Alabama became one of the first states to report its 4-Year Cohort Graduation Rate, which counts the number of on-time graduates who enrolled for the first time in ninth grade four years earlier while adjusting for students who transfer in and out. It is based on following individual students through high school, rather than estimates or projections. This method does not account for students who may drop out before reaching the 9th grade or who go on to finish after their scheduled graduation date.
Using this method for Alabama’s Class of 2011:
- 72% graduated on time.
- 8% officially dropped out.
- 7% are counted as no-shows. These students left over the summer and never completed official transfer or drop out records.
- 6% withdrew. These students officially withdrew, but they never requested transfer records sent to another school.
- 3% are counted as completers. These students completed with a document such as a GED or Special Education Graduation Certificate.
- 3% are still enrolled.
- 1% have missing records.
- This method is so new that no national comparison figure is available. Experts estimate that the national rate using this method will be in the 70-75% range.
Why it matters:
- A high school dropout’s lifetime earnings are, on average, about $260,000 less that a high school graduate’s. — Alliance for Excellent Education
- Education matters more than ever in our global economy. According to the Alabama Department of Industrial Relalations, among the 40 jobs expected to see the highest increase in demand in Alabama between now and 2018, 80% are high-skill occupations.
- “High School Graduation Rate: Non-Regulatory Guidance” – U.S. Department of Education document that reviews the details of the adjusted cohort graduation rate
- “Transitioning to the New High School Graduation Rate” – report by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) that explains the cohort graduation rate and discusses what SREB states should expect after the transition.