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Four Things to Know About Ohio's Graduation Rate

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Friday, January 24, 2014 at 4:14 PM

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For the next several months, StateImpact Ohio is taking a look at the state's dropouts.

We'll look at who's dropping out, why they're leaving school, and the efforts the state is making to get them reengaged.

Before we examine the issue of dropouts, we'll start by looking at Ohio's graduation rate, what it means, and how its calculated.

Here are four things to know:

1. The rate tells you who graduated on time.

Ohio provides a four year graduation rate for each district.  It’s the percentage of students who graduate in a given year, divided by the number of those students who started 9th grade together in the same cohort, plus any students who transferred in during that same 4 year period.   The denominator doesn’t include any students who died, moved to another country, or transferred to a different district.  Sidenote: this is different from the way Ohio calculated the graduation rate in the past, so be careful about comparing the 2012 graduation rate to any previous years.

2.  Ohio also calculates a five year graduation rate.

This rate stretches the definition of “on-time” from four years to five years.   In this calculation, the denominator includes students who started ninth grade together at the same time, plus any students who transferred in during that same five year period.  It also excludes students who died, move to another country, or transferred to a different district.

3.  The rate appears one year behind.

The most recent report card shows the graduation rate from the previous year.  This is to account for the students who graduate over the summer.

4.  Simple subtraction doesn’t exactly tell you the dropout rate.

100 percent minus the graduation rate tells you the percentage of students in a cohort that did not graduate within four or five years of starting ninth grade.  That’s not to say that some of those students didn’t graduate eventually.

Ohio doesn’t report the dropout rate on the state report card.  ODE says that’s because some of those students do return to graduate at a later time.  Plus, there are multiple codes that a school district might enter to indicate a student left school for one reason or another.

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