The Kentucky Board of Education just made a key decision — adopting regulation changes for the interim assessment process that will be used while the state rebuilds from our now discarded CATS program. As part of that interim change, the board made an especially important and commendable decision.
Kentucky will move as quickly as possible to more accurate graduation rate reporting using the federally researched Average Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR) formula, which I’ve extensively discussed (such as here and here) in this blog.
Moving Kentucky to better graduation rate reporting has long been a goal of the Bluegrass Institute. We are pleased that this better formula for estimating graduation rates will be used for the class of 2010. We will also see fully disaggregated data by race from the new calculations for the first time, as well. Up until now, that information has only covered statewide totals.
Actual results from the improved calculation will be made public beginning in 2011 because all the data required to compute the AFGR cannot be gathered until some time after the class leaves school.
In the longer term, the state will move to a highly accurate graduation rate calculation around 2013. This will track each individual student in the system so that no longer will any kids “drop through the cracks.”
As a consequence of the increased accuracy, the department of education briefers at today’s meeting admitted that high school graduation rates from the AFGR calculation will be lower than those reported by Kentucky’s current, inflated and heavily criticized calculation. Based on experience in other states like Oregon that already moved to high quality student tracking for graduation rate reporting, the AFGR rates will also probably prove somewhat too high once the high quality data starts to appear after 2013.
No one knows for certain, but the experience in some other states indicates our true graduation rate could be as much as 10 points lower than the 84 percent rates currently being reported. That is a significant difference that would amount to somewhere around 50 percent more kids being lost than is admitted by the current calculation.