Look for Michigan's overall high school graduation numbers to
drop as the state prepares to release its data next week based
on a new formula agreed upon by the National Governors
"Some school districts will have a lower rate than in the past,"
acknowledges Margaret ROPP, director of the Center for
Educational Performance & Information (CEPI).
When asked if districts are concerned the lower rates could hurt
their funding, Ropp said graduation rates are just one of more
than 20 indicators for Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), which
impacts federal Title I funding.
The new formula is expected to provide more accurate data, as
highlighted by the different rates reported by Michigan and
national studies, in which districts -- particularly Detroit
Public Schools -- fare far worse.
Ropp said the new formula would make it impossible to compare
2007 data to be released next year to years previous. The
2005-06 school year state graduation rate was 85.75 percent.
Michigan has adopted a four-year cohort graduation rate, along
with all 50 states. It is the 17th state to implement the
formula. Michigan has been planning to transition for five
Here's how it works. The clock starts ticking when a student
enters ninth grade and is expected to graduate in four years.
CEPI started tracking ninth graders during the 2003-04 school
year who would graduate in 2007. It takes into account students
who transfer in.
The formula breaks students into four groups:
- On-track graduate, who completes high school with a regular
diploma in four years or less.
- Other completer, who earns a GED or reached special education
- Dropout, who left high school permanently or whose whereabouts
- Off-track graduated and continuing, who completed high school
with a regular diploma in more than four years or is still
continuing in school past four years
The state will arrive at the four-year graduation rate by
dividing the number of on-track graduates by the cohort total.
So a district that had 1,254 graduates and a 1,443 cohort total
would have a graduation rate of 86.9 percent.
Dropout rates are calculated by dividing dropouts by the cohort
The state also will calculate graduation rates by subgroups of
race/ethnicity, gender, race/ethnicity by gender, economically
disadvantaged, students with disabilities, migrant and limited
The old formula used one year of data to derive a four-year
estimated rate. It multiplied the four graduating class
retention rates together in a single year. Class retention rates
were determined by taking one graduation class at a time and
dividing the fall enrollment by the pervious fall's enrollment.
The average rate was multiplied by 100 to get the graduation
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