– Kentucky to Get Better High School Graduation Rates
The Kentucky Department of Education just released the public school Nonacademic Report for 1993 to 2008, and there is a surprise in Appendix B where it talks about planned improvements in the way the state reports graduation rates.
At present, as discussed in Appendix B, the department uses a formula called the “NCES Leaver Graduation Rate.” This rate is regarded as notoriously inflated among researchers who have looked at the reporting of high school graduation rates. States like Kentucky that use it are considered to be publishing misleadingly high graduation rate figures.
There is a far better way to compute graduation rates, one that former Kentucky governor Fletcher actually committed us to in 2005, but this method requires a highly accurate student tracking system. Because of missteps and extensive start up delays in the Kentucky Department of Education’s student tracking system, Kentucky won’t get its first really accurate graduation rate data until the 2013-14 school year even though such systems are already up and running in other states.
There was concern that Kentucky might continue to use the inflated NCES Leaver Rate until the final, high accuracy system became fully operational. However, the new Nonacademic Data Report says the state will now transition to a more accurate estimation formula for the Class of 2009-10 and later classes pending receipt of the first high accuracy data from our student tracking system.
Improving our graduation rate reporting is something the Bluegrass Institute has been pushing for years, and while the transition to the intermediate formula could be speeded up (and even start next year), the fact that there will at least be some intervening attempt to improve data on Kentucky’s high school performance is good news.