The Union Recorder

September 19, 2013

How is the high school graduation rate calculated?

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Public high schools across the country, including Baldwin High, saw their graduation rates change two years ago.

The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, allows states to uniformly compare graduation rates across the country because they use the same calculation system as federally required by the United States Department of Education.

“Up until 2011, the graduation rate was calculated based on the raw number of students who entered the ninth grade compared to the raw number of students that graduated four years later,” BHS Assistant Principal Dr. Jeremy Dockery explained. “Under the waiver, which got us off AYP [Adequate Yearly Progress], the new cohort graduation rate is calculated based on the actual group of students who enter the ninth grade and of those who graduate four years later.”

Georgia public schools previously used a formula to calculate the graduation rate that did not accurately track dropouts and transfers. Under the old formula, BHS and the state gradually increased its graduation rate each year. BHS had a graduation rate of 70 percent before calculations changed, but the rate dropped to 68.4 percent for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“This change has made it difficult for many high schools in the state,” BHS Principal Dr. Jessica Swain said.

The cohort graduation rate for BHS was 63.3 percent during the 2011-2012 school year.

Under the new calculation, students who take more than four years to graduate are considered dropouts in the calculations. If a school system cannot verify that a student has transferred to another school, then that student is also counted as a dropout for the school system. The state’s former graduation rate calculation may have included students who took more than four years to graduate from high school.

“We want students to graduate with their cohort on time [within four years]. If a student graduates in four years and one day, then the state labels that student as a dropout,” Swain said. “The mindset is students, no matter what, should graduate in four years. There’s still situations and circumstances that some students just can’t. We celebrate students graduating from high school and even if they can’t make it in four years, we want them to know we’re 100 percent behind them to make it the next year.”

The cohort graduation rate for 2012-2013 school year is expected to be released by the end of December.

For more information about the cohort graduation rate visit

Click here to subscribe to The Union-Recorder print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Union-Recorder e-edition and view this full article.