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College and Career Readiness Working Group
P-12 Education Committee


John B. King, Jr.


Reporting of College- and Career-Ready High School Graduation Rates – Part II: Planning for the Transition


October 13, 2010






Issue for Decision

In order to give educators more information about how effectively they are preparing their students for college and careers, does the Board of Regents support the Department’s proposal to publish data for each high school and district showing what percentage of students are graduating from high school with a score of 80 or better on their math Regents exam and a score of 75 or better on their English Regents exam?  If so, when should this reporting begin? 

Proposed Handling

This item will come before a joint meeting of the College and Career Readiness Working Group and the P-12 Education Committee for action at its October 2010 meeting.

Background Information

The P-12 Education Committee asked that a transition plan be proposed to support the publishing of college- and career-ready graduation rates.  This plan also needs to prepare schools and the public for several changes that will take place in graduation rate reporting in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

New Cohort Definition

When report cards are released for 2010-11 school year results, the report cards will for the first time measure graduation rate using the United State Department of Education’s (USDOE) methodology that all states must adopt for reporting purposes.  In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) requires that New York release graduation rate results using the new federal cohort definition by September 2011.  This methodology differs from how New York currently reports results at the district and school level in that:



Beginning with 2011-12 school year results, the USDOE graduation rate methodology must be used for accountability purposes and schools and districts must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) with all accountability groups, not just the “All Students” group, in order to make AYP.  Later this school year, consistent with policy adopted by the Board of Regents at their October 2009 meeting, staff will propose to the Regents amendments to Commissioner’s regulations that will take effect for 2011-12 school year results and conform them to federal requirements, incorporate the use of a five year extended graduation rate cohort for making AYP graduation determinations, and establish new graduation rate progress targets for schools and districts.

Planning for the Transition to the USDOE Cohort Definition

In order to allow schools time to plan for the change to this more rigorous graduation rate requirement, the USDOE cohort definition will not be used for accountability purposes until the 2011-12 school year results are reported.  To allow schools and districts increased flexibility to meet this new requirement, the Department will ask USDOE to allow schools and districts to meet graduation rate accountability standards based on either four- or five-year cohort results.  This means that the USDOE definition must be implemented beginning with the group of students who entered grade 9 in the 2006-07 school year (the 2006 cohort).    

However, the 2006 cohort will also be reported using the current cohort definition (the five-month rule) for graduation rate reporting using 2009-10 school year results and accountability reporting using 2010-11 school year results. 

Therefore, results for students who entered grade 9 in 2006-07 will be reported two different ways for multiple purposes:


Reporting College- and Career-Ready High School Graduation Data

The Department proposes to publish college- and career-ready graduation rate calculations that show what percentage of students are graduating from high school with a score of 80 or better on their math Regents exam and 75 or better on their English Regents exam.   Schools and districts will be able to evaluate this information in combination with the grades 3-8 math and English proficiency data to better determine how effectively they are preparing students for college and careers. To facilitate comparisons, the college- and career-ready graduation rate data will be published alongside actual graduation rate data. 

The reporting will only be informational, as these score thresholds currently do not carry any consequences for students, schools, or districts in New York’s educational accountability system.  

To fulfill federal requirements, Race to the Top Scope of Work plans have been distributed to districts and charter schools and posted on the Department’s website.  It should be noted that these work plans include the district-wide percentage of students in the 2005 cohort after four years who have earned a score of 80 or better on their math Regents exam and 75 or better on their English Regents exam.  This information is necessary for districts and charter schools to establish annual performance targets (percentage point gains) for the 2010-11 through 2013-14 school years as part of their Scope of Work for Race to the Top funding. 

The information contained in the Race to the Top work plans differs from what is proposed above, however, in that the work plans contain district-wide percentages calculated for all students in the cohort.  In contrast, the proposal under consideration is to publish college- and career-ready calculations by district and school for graduates, which will allow a side-by-side comparison between actual graduation rates and the calculated graduation rate using a college- and career-ready standard. 

Recommendations and Communication Plan

In order to avoid the release of one more set of numbers for the 2006 cohort, it is recommended that the Department first report college- and career- ready graduation rate calculations beginning with the four-year outcomes of the 2007 cohort during the graduation rate release that occurs after the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year.  This timeline will allow the Department to develop new reports that display college- and career-ready graduation rate calculations.  Schools and districts may preview and use these reports prior to the graduation rate release.   

In advance of the release of these data, the Department will reach out to stakeholders to explain that college- and career-ready graduation rate calculations are aspirational targets for information purposes only, and are intended to allow stakeholders the information necessary to predict, based on research and experience, whether students are adequately prepared to succeed in the first year of college without remediation or enter a career that requires college-level entry skills for success.  During these outreach efforts, an emphasis will be placed on the fact that these aspirational targets may not predict college and/or career success for individual students, but rather should serve as general guides for goal-setting and planning.  For this reason, we recommend that these data be reported only at the aggregate level (i.e., not at the individual student level). 


When the new USDOE cohort data become available at the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year, it is recommended that school districts and charter schools be provided with this new information so they may modify their Race to the Top annual performance targets for graduation rate (using the 2006 cohort with the USDOE cohort definition as the new baseline) and college- and career-ready performance (using the 2007 cohort with the USDOE cohort definition as the new baseline).

            If these recommendations are accepted, the timeline for the release of graduation rate information will be as follows:


December 2010


Winter 2011


Summer 2011


September 2011


November 2011


December 2011


Summer 2012

Because New York does not apply “the five-month rule” when computing the State’s overall graduation rate, this state graduation 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.

Note that because the local diploma is still available, these calculations will include some graduates who earned between a 55 and a 64 on one or more of their social studies or science Regents exams, and because the RCT Safety Net is still in effect for students with disabilities, the calculations will include some students with disabilities who earned a local diploma by passing social studies or science RCTs.

Experience suggests that the Board of Regents’ decision to redefine “proficiency” on the grades 3-8 math and English assessments to mean that a student is on track to score an 80 or better on the math Regents exam and a 75 or better on the English Regents exam is likely, over time, to lead to an increase in the percentage of students attaining those scores.  If the Board were to adopt new rules requiring that the performance of districts or schools be measured against the percentage of students who actually attain these Regents scores, districts and schools would likely change their practices to ensure more students could meet those thresholds.  Likewise, if students who attained these Regents scores were awarded some kind of college- and career-readiness credential, it is likely that the percentage of students meeting the standards would climb.  As noted above, however, a strong foundation in math and English skills is just one aspect of college and career readiness, albeit an important one.  Accountability policies should be considered holistically and with a view towards their consequences, both intended and unintended.