sed seal                                                                                                 

 

THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

TO:

EMSC Committee

FROM:

John B. King, Jr.

SUBJECT:

Policy Issues Concerning Graduation Rates – Part IV:

Defining the Graduation Rate Cohort and Using an

Extended Year Graduation Rate

DATE:

October 13, 2009

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Defining the Graduation Rate Cohort

 

Policy Decision:  

When do the Regents want to begin using the new federal four year adjusted rate graduation cohort definition?

Policy Options:           

Begin using the new federal cohort definition with the 2009-10, 2010-2011 or 2011-2012 school year results.

Policy Recommendation:      

Begin using the new federal definition with the 2011-2012 school year results.

    Background Information:

              How the graduation rate cohort is defined determines which students are being counted for accountability purposes. The graduation rate is calculated by dividing the total number of students who earn a local diploma or a Regents diploma by the total number of students in the graduation cohort.   In the past, states have been given considerable flexibility to create their own methodology for determining which students should be included in the graduation cohort.  The federal regulations will now require all states to use the same definition of graduation cohort. 

              While many states define the graduation rate cohort in a way that is very different from the proposed federal definition, New York’s current definition of the four-year cohort is very close to the proposed federal definition. However, there are three main changes that will be needed: 

 

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:

              States must adopt the new federal four-year adjusted graduation rate cohort definition and use this definition beginning no later than the 2011-2012 school year results.   The more quickly the federal definition is adopted, the less time schools and districts have to prepare for the changes.  The Regents could decide to adopt the federal definition beginning with the 2009-2010 or 2010-2011 school year results or, in order to give schools and districts as much time as possible to prepare for this change, the Regents could decide to wait until the 2011-12 school year results to begin using the federal cohort definition. In order to give schools and districts credit for students who graduate in August as well as those who graduate in June, New York State (as well as some other states) lags the graduation rate results – this means, for example, that the accountability determinations for the 2011-2012 school year are based on the graduation results for the 2007 cohort through August 2011. 

              If the Regents adopt the new cohort definition beginning with the 2011-12 results, we are giving schools and districts about 1.5 years to improve their grad rates before they are accountable under the new definition.  If the Regents adopt the new definition beginning with the results for 2010-11, we will be giving schools and districts only a few months to influence the results, and if the Regents adopt the new definition beginning with 2009-10 results, then because of the lag we would be applying the standards retroactively to the students who graduated as of August 2009.   When the Regents adopt a new, more rigorous graduation rate goal and new, more rigorous graduation targets later this year, schools and districts will face additional challenges in making Adequate Yearly Progress for graduation rate. Adopting the Federal graduation rate definition prior to the required 2011-2012 school year results would, with little notice, make even greater the challenge that schools and districts will face in meeting these new standards.

Using an Extended Year Graduation Rate

 

Policy Decision(s): 

Do the Regents want to apply to USED to use an extended year graduation rate?  If so, do the Regents want to apply to use a five year or a six-year extended year graduation rate?  If the Regents wish to use an extended year rate, how should this rate be factored into making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)              determinations?

Policy Options:           

1.           Do not apply to use an extended year graduation rate.

2.           Apply to use a five-year graduation rate.

3.           Apply to use a six-year graduation rate.

4.           Give schools and districts credit for making AYP so long as the school or district         achieves the goal or the target(s) on either the four year cohort or the extended       year cohort, or

5.           Create an index that combines the four year and the extended year graduation            rates and use that as the basis for AYP determinations.

Policy Recommendation:      

Apply to USED to use a five year extended graduation rate.        Give schools credit for making AYP so long as the school or district achieves the goal or the target(s) on either the four year cohort or the five year cohort.

    Background Information:

The federal regulations will now permit states to base AYP determinations in part on the performance of students who graduate in more than four years.  Although extended year graduation rates have not counted for federal accountability purposes,  New York State has collected and reported five and six year graduation rate data for several years.  This data (which was provided to the Regents in previous meetings) suggests that many schools have significant numbers of students who graduate after five years. The numbers of students who graduate in six years is much fewer.  USED guidance suggests that states seeking to implement a five year extended graduation rate will likely be approved.  Those states that wish to implement a six-year extended graduation rate will be asked to provide additional documentation to support that proposal. 

If a state chooses to implement an extended year graduation rate, the state must decide how the extended graduation rate will be used in combination with the four year graduation rate for making AYP decisions.  If the Regents decide to use an extended year cohort, they can decide to give schools and districts credit for making AYP so long as the school or district achieves the goal or the target(s) on either the four year cohort or the extended year cohort or create an index that combines the four year and the extended year graduation rates and use that as the basis for AYP determinations. 

 

Pros:

Implementation of an extended graduation rate gives schools and districts credit for students who are able to graduate from high school in more than four years.  An extended graduation rate provides schools and districts with additional incentive to continue to work with students to ensure that they graduate, even if they graduate in more than four years.  Data suggests that many schools have significant numbers of students who graduate after five years. The numbers of students who graduate in six years is much fewer.

              Use of an extended graduation rate is an important factor for students with disabilities because many students with disabilities require more time to earn the credits and pass the challenging State assessments to graduate. 

              Giving schools and districts credit for making AYP by achieving either the four year adjusted rate graduation rate goal or targets or the extended-year goal or targets is straightforward, easy to understand, and beneficial to the ability of schools and districts to make AYP.  Creating an index, while more complicated, allows the state to continue to give greater weight to the success of schools and districts in having students graduate in four years while also giving schools and districts some credit for students who graduate in more than four years.

Cons:

              Some believe that an extended graduation rate adds complexity to the system and could diminish the focus of schools and districts on ensuring that students graduate within four years.

 

Because New York does not apply “the five month rule” when computing the State’s overall graduation rate, this rate will be largely unaffected by the change in definition. However, many schools are likely to see their individual graduation rates decline by a few percentage points, with some schools and some accountability groups within schools experiencing larger declines.