The new graduation rates
April 19th, 2012
06:15 AM ET

The new graduation rates

by John Martin, CNN

(CNN) - The District of Columbia's 2011 high school graduation rate is down 20 percentage points from 2010. Utah's rate dropped from 90% in 2010 to 75% in 2011 - 15 percentage points. And Georgia's 2011 rate dropped 13 points from the year before. These significant drops aren't because of performance. It's all in the math. States are changing the way they figure out graduation rates.

The new formula is a bit of simple division: The number of current graduates is divided by the number of them that sat in a ninth-grade classroom for the first time four years earlier. It’s called the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate,” and it requires states to keep track of every student who enters ninth grade and follow them wherever they end up - at graduation or elsewhere.

In 2005, governors from all 50 states signed on to use this new formula. Before then, states used different ways to measure graduation rates.

Most states were calculating the graduation rate using the "leaver rate," which includes a formula that does not necessarily account for every possible way a student could leave the system. For example, some students who said they would transfer to another system never enrolled in their new district. Those students are often not counted as dropouts by either school district. Also, the leaver rate counts all graduates, even students who go to senior prom five or six years after their first day in high school.

Kentucky recently moved from a leaver rate calculation to the averaged freshman method, which calculates the percentage of freshmen who graduate in four years, but relies on estimates to determine the number of ninth-graders. Lisa Gross, the Kentucky Department of Education communications director, told CNN, “We’re using that to transition towards the cohort rate,” which Gross said is more reliable than the other methods. The state experienced a seven-point drop when it recalculated graduation rates in 2010. Gross told CNN that the rate is expected to dip again when the state uses the cohort rate for the class of 2013. Kentucky’s graduation rates between 2009 and 2010 would have improved slightly had the state been using the averaged freshman calculation for both graduating classes.

Even though the new formula seems simple, what's behind the new equation could lead to more work by school and state officials. States must now track individual students, instead of using estimated student numbers.

Georgia switched from the leaver rate to the cohort rate for its 2011 calculation. Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Education, told CNN that the new standards require better documentation. He said, “In some districts, where you saw a difference, it was because of how students were coded. We didn't have the ability to track by [student] before.”

Under the four-year cohort, schools now have to account for all students. Students who leave a school are counted as dropouts unless the school can document where they went. A student who transfers to another school still counts as part of the original cohort unless the school can document that the student enrolled elsewhere. Homeschooled students must be registered as such.

Some states, including Georgia, were including students who graduated in five or six years instead of the traditional four. Under the new cohort rate method, those students are not included in the graduation calculation, even though they aren't considered dropouts.

D.C.'s 20-point drop in its graduation rate doesn't tell the whole story. The Washington Post points out that calculated the old way, the district’s graduation rate still went up 7 points.

D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said in a statement, “With the new calculations, we have a clearer understanding of the work we still need to do, and the public has a more reliable way to hold us accountable.”

Georgia school officials aren't fazed by that state's 13-point drop, either. Georgia's Cardoza says the state is seeing an upward trend in graduation rates. He told CNN, "For us, [the four-year cohort calculation] is more accurate. [2011] is a baseline year. We will improve no matter what the formula is. We improved under the old rate, and we will continue to improve."

Not every state experienced a severe plunge under the new math. Michigan state officials had braced themselves for a big drop, but the state's rate fell only by 1.6%. The Detroit Free Press quoted Jan Ellis, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Education, who said, "Michigan has been able to raise expectations of rigor in high school without resulting in the increase in dropouts predicted by the skeptics." Some districts in Michigan did experience major drops - as much as 25 percentage points - while Detroit's rate dipped only 3 points to about 60%.

Judy Park, Utah's associate superintendent of education, says that while the cohort method encourages schools to keep better track of students, it could have a negative effect on some students. The Standard-Examiner quoted Park, who said, "If you only look at that graduation rate and ignore all of those other students, (such as) students who complete the GED and special education students who maybe did not earn a diploma, but who did not drop out, then I think it's a disservice to those students." Before 2011, Utah did not count special education students with severe mental disabilities or those who left early for technical training or college. Those students are included in the new cohort calculations.

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Filed under: Graduation • High school • Policy
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Summer

    People love numbers! Highest GPA, 6 figures salary, or top ten so and so. Education is indeed the key to take you to wisdom, contentment, and standard of knowledge. Bu a true success is different from person to person.

    April 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  2. Brendon

    Anything you explained made plenty of sense. But, consider this to be, what happens if you added a little bit content? I'm talking about, I shouldn't show you the way to run your blog, but imagine you included some thing to might be get peoples attention? Similar to a video clip or a photo or two to get people interested in what you have to say. In my opinion, it would help make your website come to life a bit more.

    April 24, 2012 at 6:56 am |
  3. Russ Wise

    It seems to be the elephant in the room, especially here in Louisiana – where a new set of education "reforms" has just been signed into law after being pushed through the legislature over the objections of educators at every level: Among the fallacies are several that hold schools and school boards are responsible for both the dropout rate and the attendence rate, two things that are completely out of their control. Only parents can requitr kids to complerte their assignments, prepare for tests, behave themselves properly, stay in school, and graduate. Until parents recognize their responsibilities there will be no change in any of the key indicators.
    BTW – in Louisiana only the public schools have either accountability or transparency. Private and parochial schools, which have fought successfully for years to prevent such standards,are the only ones that will benefit from the package of "reforms" that have just become law here.
    Full disclosure: i am a member of a public school board, I helped develop the original school accountability program for the state, I have unsuccessfully tried to prevent the watering-down of the original standards and the return of social promotion. I am also weathy enough to be able to have afforded to send my children to private schools anywhere in the U.S. but chose to send them to public schools instead. Today one is an M.D., one works in a health related field, and one is on the dean's list at a major Jesuit university, preparing to study international law or a graduate degree in diplomacy international relations.

    April 21, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  4. jack zercher

    more waste of money and time – just a make work effort – it would all come out in the wash to use the freshman total enrollment and the total graduation – some distortion for transfers and 5 or 6 year grads – again all works out in the end and if worried about 5 and 6 year grads provide smoothing by adjusting with rolling 6 year average

    April 20, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  5. Really?

    As a teacher at an "alternative" high school in Ohio, I am not sure why we cannot adjust graduation rates upward for past classes when someone finishes in their 5th or even 6th year. It should not be that difficult, since the state DOE is tracking each of these students. In my humble opinion, for the purposes of overall graduation rates, it should not matter whether a student finishes "early", "on time", or beyond their 4 years. All that should matter is whether or not a person graduates, or not.

    April 20, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Terri

      Really, I agree with you. The dropout rate would still be too high though. What is needed is more of the alternative schools like the one you are in. My son dropped out and attained a GED, he then went on to college and made honors classes where he held a 3.8 GPA. His problem in public schools was he just hated the boredom and structure of it. There are many very intelligent young people dropping out for the same reason. Public schools are horrible for kids who don't fit a very specific mold, it doesn't mean they are not a matter of fact they are often extremely intelligent. We need to accomodate these kids, we are failing them.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
      • Chris

        no honors classes in college. But thanks for playing

        May 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
      • Cody

        I agree, and a lot of schools offer these kinds of things. Many schools have some kind of "Talented" program for students. I don't know if your school had some kind of structure, but most of the time the parent will have to be involved. My own mother put me into this program after my grades started dropping and I became a troublemaker. She realized I was bored out of my mind doing 4th grade math in 4th grade! The teachers simply don't have the resources to identify each student's needs. It's really up to the parents.

        However, the schools do need some kind of system for different kids. It's done on a state basis currently I believe.

        April 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  6. lex

    The real issue is that this is all likely a shell game. The edudation industrial complex plays with its statistics for whatever agenda is currently has. And nothing ever gets fixed. The US is more and more becoming a third-world nation.

    April 20, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • JMK

      Seriously? Have you ever been to a lesser-developed country or "third-world nation" as you call it? Things are much, much better here, even if you live in inner-city Detroit, where you have probably never been, either.

      April 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Guppy101

    > Those in the "know" are smart enough to realize good grades come from the parents and family. Finding time to teach their children and support them.

    > Most Public Schools are places where children get " bullied" and " bashed". Teachers are there just to hand out exam papers.!!!

    April 20, 2012 at 5:33 am |
    • George

      I disagree. The problem is two-fold. First, parents are the problem. Parents need to raise their children in a self respecting way so that they are able to not only cope but overcome every obstacle. My goodness, it's not like bullies did not exist in the 60s, 70s, or 80s! They did. We need to teach our own children how to handle these situations. We do it with our sons and it works. Second, the Education Dept has tied the hands of these teachers so much that they can't turn around good. It's also our federally elected leaders that enact policies that demoralize a nation and take away every fabric of our being. It's no wonder why children don't care! It's because their being taught now, not to care. We've lowered the standards with "No Child Left Behind" and we've taken out key parts of our own American history so that we don't offend the world. The teachers aren't to blame – it's us!

      April 20, 2012 at 8:47 am |
      • MMR

        So true, George. Bullies didn't just materialize one day, they've been around forever. I think the reason it's getting so much attention now is because resources for parents are squeezed–now, more than ever. The cost of raising children keeps going up in proportion to average wages. Since children are "worth more" seeing as that they cost a higher percentage of income, they're more "precious." I don't remember hearing the term "helicopter parents" until this last decade.

        April 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Ari

      I agree there needs to be more parental involvement in education. Parents teach good study habits. When I was in school my mother made us sit at the kitchen table until we finished our homework every night. There were only exceptions made once we were in high school and even then only for essays that had to be longer than 3 pages. I learned to do my homework as soon as I got it because it gave you more time to study later on.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  8. larry5

    It does not matter what the graduation rate is as long as the student feels good about he educational experience. When he/she gets a job with the government he/she will have to focus on political correctness and feeling good. The professional part is of no interest to the employee or the government. The government job is an improved form of welfare with the government can better keep track of people and monitor their behavior and make sure that they lean how to think right. The only other choice is to work in the private sector and that is not for everyone. Then graduating is important but with the economy in the condition it's in and no fix in sight you can just blow off the studying and paying attention in class, go have a beer and get ready for that government job.

    April 20, 2012 at 3:35 am |
  9. Math is Hard

    Well America you are gettting what you want. Cut Cut Cut Education and School funding as Taxes are evil evil evil......So as our youth starts to fail we can be proud..

    April 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • lucky

      Try reading the article.

      April 19, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  10. Beth

    Well I have a solution. Everyone who knows what's wrong join the appropriate organization designed to try to fix it. Actually work to make it better. Instead of spending your time on your computers make an effort to repair whats damaged.

    April 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  11. Old Geezer

    Don't share this much or ever, so don't go labeling me more than what I've already labeled myself. I don't understand how it would have been possible for me and most of my high school/college cohorts to graduate had we; watched TV every night, played computer games, chatted on the computer, spent time getting pierced and tattooed, had a cell phone glued to our cheeks, had thumbs frantically texting, had ear buds planted in our ear canals, maintained Facebook accounts, or had any of the other new diversions. This post is costing me a chore I need to be doing right now, so I suppose we're all getting sucked into this to some extent.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm |


    April 19, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Old Geezer

      I'd rather hear a kid cuss like a sailor than say, "This is boring!" I find it vulgar, and every time a kid has it to me, they find themselves not so bored anymore.

      April 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Guest

      I am concerned. The Ha Ha's? Not Ah Ha's. Wow. I do not see anywhere in this post where you address the success of your kids. It is all about you and what you have done. You are a teacher that likes to blow their own horn. If you are so competent in your ability to reach the bored students of the world, I believe that you should be educating the next generation of lawmakers that will make a difference. Until you have walked in someones else's shoes I do not believe that you should be spewing hatred about someone else's choice of profession.

      April 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • EyeforandEye

      Caps lock stuck...fix that...people will read more.

      April 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  13. griff griff

    There is a lot of blame to go around for these results. We must first look at the lowest common denominator, which is the home, and work our way up the ladder. If the environment at home is not conducive to educational success, then the child is doomed to be in these statistical categories one day. Too much TV, video games, sports, cell phones, single parent home, economic disadvantaged, drugs/alcohol, bad parenting/no parenting, and the list goes on, are all contributors to this deliemma. We have a lot to clean up in America just to get to a respectable drop-out rating.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  14. The_Mick

    I taught at an above-average high school in a county of growing population. We typically had about 800 freshmen and 560 Senior graduates. That's about 70% getting through. But the county typically reported better than 80% graduation rates. NO question they were were playing games with the statistics.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  15. Nat

    In the end, it is not the teachers or the school. It is the parents and their expectations and support of education. My father is Asian (East Indian) and my mother American. I grew up with the expectation that high school was our first step to higher education and that college was essential to succeed in this life. We were expected to graduate, go to college and continue on to graduate school. Today I have 3 degrees including a graduate degree. I work in the computer science field. My brother is an executive with a private corporation. Both of us make 6 figures and paid our way through school with either loans, scholarships or grants.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Nat Readerland

    I moved to Nevada in my 30s after having grown up in Virginia. The graduation rate where I lived was 99% with over 95% going to college. The great state of Nevada sports a 42% graduation rate. That is correct...42%. Everyone should feel much better now.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  17. StevenR

    We are reporting statistics for morons. BOTH statistics should be readily available. I am unsure WHICH is more important. Is it more important that the student graduates in four years or that they graduate at all. It would seem to me that the OLD WAY makes more sense, but both may be useful.

    But at any rate, DON'T DUMB DOWN THE DATA. If you are TOO IGNORANT to handle complex statistics, KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF. THEY HAVE NO MEANING!

    April 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • jack phoenix

      Their worries are not the students, but possible loss of state and federal funds.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  18. idb

    Behold the "succes" of "no child left behind."

    April 19, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • bs1

      Indeed, NCLB has done an excellent job of making the taxpayers aware of just how bad many of our schools are and just how worthless a good number of the "teachers" are. NCLB has done nothing but good and we need to continue forward with accountability for our schools and get rid of the bad "teachers" and administrators, many of whom have now been caught cheating on the tests and reports to try to hide their incompetence.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  19. Lucas Kelley

    AS a high school student, i can say that i come to school most everyday and feel as though i am wasting me time. there are so many other things i could be doing to better myself on my own, i dont need to be watched over at big kid day care.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • ffact

      Lucas, you have the rest of your life to do nothing and be stupid. For now, get your lazy a$$ to school and do what your told!

      April 19, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Nat Readerland

      If you do not finish high school or get your GED then you are guaranteed a job at minimum wage. You get out of it what you put in. I spent my 4 years in AP classes and was well prepared for college.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
      • John

        That is if they get a job at all. What are they thinking? Ans:They're not.

        April 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Guest

      So quit and get a job and see who watches you then. Oh wait your boss.

      April 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Ann Marie Palmer


      You sound like an intelligent kid who is frustrated because school is boring or kids are disrupting or both.

      I am convinced that school is about to change. Within 3 years all middle and high school students will have tablets and schooling will forever change. Fasten your seatbelt, it is about to get interesting....

      April 20, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  20. k

    I don't even have any children. However, I have a niece and nephew who's mother or father never really been there for the both of them. Neither one of them live with their parents. They stay with our family.I came back home 2,500 miles to make sure I was there for my nephew to graduate. I gave him the motivation and most positives aspects of life that I could. My niece is still in school doing well. I would like to say this fall my nephew is college bound! So proud of him!

    April 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  21. 20-30 years down the road..

    I cant wait to hear, people complaining about Indians and Chinese taking jobs here in america. those complaining are the idiots who simply couldnt graduate.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  22. DanoRoo

    Make diplomas like welfare checks and food stamps. Just GIVE them to everybody. No need to earn it.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Nat Readerland

      Careful Dano. They are already doing that in Nevada. My friends son has terrible grades and yet the parents have already received a notice that they are going to give diplomas to all the seniors regardless of grades.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  23. Don Rafa

    Education is free in the United States. If you do not go to school and (if) you do not learn, that is your fault. Do not blame me. Homework is absolutely essential. If your parents can not help you, you are no better off than a football team that does not practice every day, over and over until the day of the big game.

    April 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  24. Austin

    Wait, you mean we cut education by 30% and more kid dropped out? Shocking

    April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  25. babs

    The attainment of education is an example of Social Darwinism that public policy on education is unlikely to improve. Those who have the motivation will excell, those who do not will not. It has always been thuss.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  26. Living Large

    This very same method is what messed us up with my asperger child. The school refused to allow her to stay an additional year despite three doctors and research to back up that an additional year would allow her a chance to mature and learn skills she had not yet taught/learned despite those deficits being evident since kindergarten. The numbers were more important than the individual. We are so messed up!

    April 19, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  27. showfacts

    This is the part I will have to inject the self responsibility argument. I put myself through High school being Homeless for most of my senior year at times crashing on a friends couch or in my car. But yet still graduating with honors and a GPA over 3.5 It is absolutely cultural. Its as if we are getting less and less educated as a nation.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • rock woman

      @showfacts: You've got a lot more grit than most of us. It's expecting an awful, awful lot from a kid to do what you did. Bravo!

      April 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  28. Barney

    You wouldn't want to, you know, post a table of rates by state or anything, would you?

    April 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Phil Sinclair

      Thanks for asking the right question. I hope you get an answer in writing from CNN. I also hope they post the numbers for each state.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  29. robertopp

    Let's face the truth: Americans are lazy. A sizable fraction of our population agree with Rick Santorum when he said that university education is elitist and makes people turn away from "God". Our children spend their spare time playing World of Warcraft or skateboarding. Meanwhile, the Chinese work hard, study hard, obey their parents, and they end up filling our best colleges. The faces of our universities today are the faces of our workforce tomorrow. If 70% of our best students are Asians, then 70% of the people who get the best paying jobs tomorrow will also be Asians. I don't know how we can turn things around. This isn't even about government policy. This is about CULTURE. Right now, let's admit that Chinese culture is superior to American culture.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • ffact

      and black culture is at the very bottom, below all!

      April 19, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • Spsych

      1)You do realize that online gaming, including WoW is a very popular thing in China (and most other aisian coutries)

      2)Not sure where you are pulling those percentages from of the 'best' students, they simply do not make sense when you look at student enrollement by country, Asians typically do have higher enrollment rates in tech/math/engineering fields, but they are still a minority on most campuses. But this is more of a function of american schools not focusing on these areas (unlike the rest of the world), insteed we want to fight about ones 'right' to teach our kids about evolution rather than anything scientific.

      3) most students that come over here are over here because they are very intelligent and very well disciplened, and are probably on scholarship. One would expect them to do better than some half intellecually disabled frat guy who is only at college because his parents have the money to pay for it. I would guess however (and probably supporting what you meant), even the average student from ANY industrialized nation would blow a 'good' american student out of the water.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jpat

      You do understand that Rick Santorum has multiple degrees from various elite universities, don't you? Republicans don't like public education because it educates those who couldn't otherwise afford an elite, private education. In otherwards it allows poor people and minorities a chance at the American dream. If there's one thing that scares the wealthy, white, republican elite, it's the fact that the disenfracnchised can get hip to their game and rise against it.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Larry L

      Education does in fact make a person turn away from "god". Educated people tend to expect logic and validation for their beliefs – a mythology written by man, edited and translated many times, and used for centuries to gain power fails those tests. Religion has caused death and misery throughout recorded history and continues to plague mankind. It's not the fault of "elitist" education that makes people turn away from relition – but rather the awarenes created by education of religion's influence on civilization.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
      • inbetween

        Absolutely excellent comment!!

        April 19, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
      • Todd

        Where are your facts to back that up? Education doesn't strive a person away from God. It would give them a more of an understanding in God. The fact that most churches give sermons designed for People with a middle school education to understand, doesn't mean there isn't more depth to analysis and understand in God. People use religion to be nasty to what ever group they don't like. Without religion they will find an other reason to be nasty to the group. The Nazi and Communist were atheistic based parties, and were on the record causing a lot of pain in suffering on "Scientific" ideals.

        April 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Nat

      I have to agree. My father is Asian (East Indian) and my mother American. I grew up with the expectation that high school was our first step to higher education and that college was essential to succeed in this life. We were expected to graduate, go to college and continue on to graduate school. Today I have 3 degrees including a graduate degree. I work in the computer science field. My brother is an executive with a private corporation. Both of us make 6 figures and paid our way through school with either loans, scholarships or grants.

      April 19, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Ann Marie Palmer

      It's all in their writing. If our kids had to learn thousands of complicated characters starting in kindergarten (instead of our simple 26 letters), our kids would be forced to study from the get-go. It's all in their writing ...

      April 20, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  30. a teacher

    Maybe if you paid teachers a living wage, there would be better teachers – many of the teachers in the schools that I see are there because they cannot get a job in anything else. Actually pay teachers like professionals and you will get men and women into the classrooms that will inspire and actually know the content that they are teaching. My students respect me because they know what I am talking about – and they love the stories in history that I bring. Having a masters degree in both my content and education should count for something. Unfortunately, I teach in Fairfax County where parents are more concerned about purchasing expensive cars and clothes for their kids. I atcually had one of the schoolboard members tell me that I did not deserve to live in Fairfax County and should move further out if I want to buy a house. Where I was raised (Pittsburgh), having a teacher live in the community was seen as a sign of prestiege.

    April 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • thecastro

      A lot of people work in Farifax that can't afford to live there, what's your point? I work in Columbia doing a job that you'd think would pay me enough to live here, it doesn't.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
      • a teacher

        what is your job?

        April 19, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Forrestine Eubanks

      AMEN! Talent has left the classroom and those with superior intellect, passion and the will to teach who choose to remain are often subjected to the reactionary mediocrity of lesser minds. No other profession would stand for it, and it is a national tragedy that our most fundamental profession does so. We are out of step with the rest of humankind.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Todd

      Teachers have a living wage. I have done the calculations I took the average wage from my areas school district, I took in all the time off and vacation time. Assumed the teacher works 10 hours a day (6 hours for classes and 4 doing paper work) And it turned out they tend to make as much adjusted as a Middle Grade Engineer. A living wage. It is too bad that teacher just listen to their unions and just don't know how to do the objective math themselves.

      April 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • PK

        Did you include the continuing education and certification that is required of all teachers during the three months when they aren't teaching? Did you also happen to include the overpaid administrators salaries as part of a teacher's average salary? Add in the continuing education credits required and remove administrative salaries and you might come up with a different figure as to livable wages.

        April 19, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
      • a teacher

        we do not have unions in VA my friend – average takehome salary is 120,000 – teacher take home average is 64,000. You really have no idea what you are talking about. We work hard...I am not even paid for lunch. My salary is based on a 7.5 hour day, which I have never worked – minimum of 9+ hours a day

        April 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  31. ranch111

    Either you graduate or you don't. I'm laughing at all the ways a student can "leave the system." Fact is, most public schools are utterly and completely failing.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • fattmerris

      It's primarily parents who are failing the kids, not the schools. The best way to improve our education system is to improve parent involvement.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  32. Sussay

    This new calculation doesn't make much sense - what if a student's family moves to a different state between 9th grade and graduation?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • jomartin

      Hi Sussay,
      Good question. I asked Georgia DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza about this but didn't include it in the article. According to Cardoza, the student has to be documented as enrolled in the school in the new state, or gets counted as a dropout in the old school. The student then joins the cohort for that state at that grade level.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  33. holt0338

    Caldude, nice job of making broad assumptions. Money is indeed an issue. But, thing is, it is to help counteract the harmful impact that lack of involved parenting has on the system. Certain areas costs more to teach because you have to provide services that cost money in order to get achievement levels where they need to be. Whether this involves special education programming, the creation of extra-curriculuars, longer school days/years, tutoring, etc., it all costs money. You don't have as much of those costs in eaiser to teach nieghborhoods where social and economical capital from parents is higher as those students come to school already more liklely to achieve.

    So yes, it is about parents, and yes it is about money. As for us spending more than anyone else, that is misleading as 1) other nations don't have high school or middle school sports as part of their education system and instead are community programs, 2) we usually have counceling services internal within the school instead of through a health and human service department, and 3) we educate everyone, not just those who are easy to edcuate. When you include all costs associated with the develeopment of children, not just the costs incurred within the public school system, we actually are not at the top...

    April 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • MoLa1959CT

      You make this lack of involved parenting thing sound so clear cut and simple. It isn't. There are many low income parents out there who have to work several jobs in order to house and feed their kids. Then we wonder shy they are not sitting doing homework with little Mary or Joe. Our whole system is so very broken, in applauding the ultra rich for working hard to raise their kids but not understanding that that is NOTHING compared to a working poor family trying to do the same.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
      • ffact

        Most poor people are poor because of life choices, and had countless chances to do something constructive. Also: most poor are not working multiple jobs,,instead they are collecting many different forms of welfare for housing, food, utilities and every other handout they can get, while they complain and blame others. People are free to succeed as far as their hard work and perseverance takes them, BUT they are also free to fail, and when they do, stop blaming others! People are accountable for their actions!

        April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  34. ffact

    you can dump all the money in the world into a school,,, however, if the child has a teenage mother on welfare, and the father is unknown, and the primary disciplinarian is the Police Dept,,, then the student will fail, join the crips or bloods and spend most of his life in prison.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • ranch111

      Or join the military.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • sgt slaughter

        The military is a complete disgrace nowadays. Joining the burger line at McDonald's is probably more honorable.

        April 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • Don Warren

        The military will no longer take social misfits. If a teacher can't control thier class....they can't teach. This may not be very scientific but paddling a kids butt seemed to work, in the pre-Dr. spock world.

        April 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Beth

      How do you teach a parent to parent? Who decides the parenting guidelines we all must follow?

      April 19, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  35. Informed

    The 4 Year Adjusted Cohort Rate requires schools and districts to maintain excellent enrollment records. Many districts and states do not coordinate the transfer of student data when students transfer, and so the data isn't always correct. Having to clean up 4 years worth of data is also taxing and frustrating for districts and schools. The 4 year rate doesn't allow for Special Education students who are on an IEP to get credit, nor do you get credit if you graduate with a GED or other non-diploma certificates. It's very strict.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  36. Cheryl S

    No matter how you calculate them, our country's drop-out rates are outrageous and unacceptable. Why is it still possible for a minor to drop out? Every kid in this country should be at least graduating high school. The most common response to this these days is the blame the teacher mentality. Teachers can't make your kids go to school or show any respect once they're there, and yet they're blamed for all the consequences of bad and neglectful parenting.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  37. Brenda

    It makes you wonder if the states were padding their numbers any way possible to make sure they could justify funding. Another way the NEA and UNION run schools attempt to keep their monopoly despite their obvious failures. Just like the "great Union teachers" they had in Atlanta, until they discovered about 100+ were cheating on standardized exams. GO UNION EMPLOYEES...its no wonder our kids are more and more uneducated every year...

    April 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Erik

      I'm not in education, but it's also the kids' and parents' responsibility to join in education. If parents/kids choose to be uneducated or try very little, then they suffer the consequences later in life.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  38. Brenda

    I'm shocked that D.C. even has a graduation rate....the D.C. school system has been a COLOSSAL FAILURE

    April 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  39. Ally

    The way these number are talked about in the article seem to be a little misleading. The new numbers are results from a completely different formula, so you can't compare them to numbers using the old formula. Even though the new numbers "dropped by 20 points" in some doesn't necessarily mean the graduation rate dropped that much. It's comparing apples and oranges.

    That being said, I think it's sad that some places (like Detroit) are used to a 60% graduation rate.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • jomartin

      Hi Ally,
      I wrote the article and I understand what you're saying. But states have to report graduation rates every year and when they change the way the rate is calculated, it often drops, and gets reported that way, both to the media and to other government agencies. My article explains that this isn't a performance phenomenon, it's based on the way the rate is calculated. Some local papers have missed the rationale behind the numbers, and some others have done a very good job of breaking it down, so I offer up this explainer for the national audience.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  40. lukeandleia

    I always find it interesting that drop-out rates are reported as a school issue when in fact, parents have to sign the drop-out papers. In reality, school systems employ dropout prevention officers to make home visits, work with social workers & guidance counselors to prevent drop-outs. This is another sign of slashing education budgets; many of these positions have been eliminated. Bottom line: Parents have to sign for their child to drop out of school! Blame them.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Erik


      April 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Dudus57

      You are obviously from a nice area with funding for such things and children that respect their parents. I’m not saying you are wrong, I’m saying you are coming from it the wrong way. Trust me in my area I could have “dropped-out” without permission from mom. Seriously, cross the tracks once in a while before you point the finger.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Dudus57

      You are obviously from a nice area with funding for such things and children that respect their parents. I’m not saying you are wrong, I’m saying you are coming from it the wrong way. Trust me in my area I could have “dropped-out” without permission from mom. Seriously, cross the tracks once in a while before you point the finger.You are obviously from a nice area with funding for such things and children that respect thier partents.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • justanotherchildofgod

      Actually, that varies from state to state. In Texas the current law says that a 16 year old can drop out with parental consent and an 18 year old can drop out without parental consent. That is a fairly recent change in the law. Previously the law said 16, with or without parental consent. At 18, you rarely have seniors leaving as drop outs, but it does still happen.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  41. profteach

    Great lack of participation CNN audience. Keep eating up stories on Kim Kardasian and forget how to improve the lives of our children. I'm with excitizen.

    April 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  42. teacherg

    When are the "experts" going to factor in the pressure on high school teachers to give a passing D- grade just so a student can graduate? As a veteran teacher I see this every year right about this time. Parents who have not come to any school events or contacted teachers or even refuse to answer the phone when we call, are pressuring administrators and counselors and it trickles down to the rest of us. So what kind of students are we "graduating"? Why should we settle for mass mediocrity?

    April 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  43. excitizen

    The fact that I'm the only one posting under this article which has been up since 6 a.m. this moring says all there is to know about american priorities in education. Yet there are thousand posting under the Ted Nugent article and the Afgan article. Reality television mentality – your moms must be so proud!

    April 19, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • justanotherchildofgod

      @excitizen – How does the fact that you were sitting in front of a computer posting comments on a news feed make you any more concerned about education than a parent that was spending time with their child in the morning, going over their homework from the night before, eating breakfast, etc?

      April 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  44. excitizen

    No matter how you do the math, it's still really bad results. This goes directly to parenting PERIOD. How they do in school is a teaching issue, but being responsible for getting them there and understanding that they have to go is parenting. Too many parents more interested in Jersey Shore and similar shows to bother. Very sad state of affairs. This is why so many other countries are passing you by. This is why you have a major political party who seeks to get endorsements from the likes of a traitor like "almost dead" Nugent. How embarrassing for you all. Cry of the right – "keep'm stupid, they're easier to lead" has been going on for years.

    April 19, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Chantal

      Thanks for passing such cruel judgement on my hard-working, widowed mother who had no time for herself and who couldn't cure the mental illness that was causing me to fail in school in the first place.

      April 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • Don Rafa

        There is no judgement in your case. If you have some sort of mental problem, no one can or should blame you or the schooling that you may have had. Actually from your writing I would say that you are more capable than most of those that have posted here, that are unable to spell or put their point across as well as you have.

        April 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Mil

      I don't normally post comments but I will shoot you a reply just to let you know you're not alone. Those of us who care are out there and working every day on the front lines to help these struggling teens.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • ffact

      parenting skill are at an all time low!!! however, Ted Nugent has nothing to do with this,,, and your attack on him has no place here.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • CalDude

      I agree with your parenting assessment. But, according to MOST democrats the issue is we don't spend enough money, yet US spends more money per child for education.

      "Cry of the right – "keep'm stupid"... seems like you're the one who's stupid.

      Wise up.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • CalDude

      I agree with your parenting assessment. But, according to MOST democrats the issue is we don't spend enough money, yet US spends more money per child for education.

      "Cry of the right – "keep'm stupid"... seems like you're the one who's stupid.

      Wise up.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • A Parent

      Wow. You obviously have perfect children, or no children at all. It's so easy to say it's the parent's fault until you live it. Please, take my child and see if you can do any better. Knowing that my child would be better off with a much more quailified person such as yourself, maybe I'll be able to sleep at night instead of running myself ragged trying to get through to my child.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
      • JR

        Yes, you failed... 80% its the parants

        April 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • peggy

      Some parents do try very hard but it is sometimes difficult when one has to do several jobs just to survive, to give their children the supervision and support necessary to do their homework resulting in better school performance. And yes, as you same some are watching the type of shows you mentioned. Government must continue to invest in education and to provide support to parents to ensure our children are properly cared for and educated. I don't see it any other way. If we are to remain a great nation, we must invest in the greatness of our most precious resources-our children.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm |