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# Graduation Data for the Class of 2009-10

The four-year on-time graduation rate for the Class of 2010 was 72.4 percent. The four-year formula, adopted in 2009-10, defines “on time” as only those students who graduate from high school four years after transitioning from eighth grade.

It is important to note that this new formula yields a rate that cannot be compared directly with data prior to 2009-10. With the old system, students who took longer than four years to graduate were factored into the formula calculating a graduation rate. Under this four-year “on-time” formula, a student is assigned an unchanging anticipated year of graduation (AYG) when they transition from eighth grade.

The anticipated year of graduation is assigned by adding four years to the year that a student transitions from eighth grade. In other words, the formula anticipates that a student transitioning from eighth grade at the end of the 2010 school year and, subsequently, entering ninth grade in fall 2010 will graduate with the Class of 2014.

## Four-Year “on-time” Graduation Rate Calculation:

Number of students receiving a regular diploma within four years of transitioning
from 8th grade during the 2009-10 school year

(Number of students transitioning from 8th grade at the end of the 2005-06 school year)
+ (Number of transfers in) – (Number of verified transfers out)

## Historical On-Time Graduation and Completion Rates

Starting in 2009-2010, the method Colorado uses to calculate the graduation rate changed. In the past, early and late graduates were folded into the current graduating class. In the new rate, a student is assigned an Anticipated Year of Graduation (AYG) that does not change. These early and late graduates are reflected in 3-year, 5-year, 6-year, and 7-year graduation rates based on their assigned Anticipated Year of Graduation.

The information below reflects the historical graduation and completion rates of students who graduated on-time in four years (Cohort 4), in five years (Cohort 5), in six years (Cohort 6), and in seven years (Cohort 7). This data spans Anticipated Years of Graduation from 2006-07, 2007-08, and 2008-09.

## Anticipated Year of Graduation 2008-2009

Four Year On-Time Graduation and Completion Rates

Five Year Graduation and Completion Rates

## Anticipated Year of Graduation 2007-2008

Four Year On-Time Graduation and Completion Rates

Five Year Graduation and Completion Rates

Six Year Graduation and Completion Rates

## Anticipated Year of Graduation 2006-2007

Four Year On-Time Graduation and Completion Rate

Five Year Graduation and Completion Rates

Six Year Graduation and Completion Rates

Seven Year Graduation and Completion Rates

## Notes

The graduation rate is one of the critical pieces of performance information for parents, principals, superintendents, community members, and all tax payers.

Starting from 2009-2010, the method Colorado uses to calculate the graduation rate is changing. In the past, early and late graduates were folded into the current graduating class. In the new rate, a student is assigned a graduating class that does not change. These early and late graduates are reflected in 3-year, 5-year, 6-year, and 7-year graduation rates based on their assigned anticipated year of graduation.

Therefore, the major change involves a shift to a four-year “on-time” graduation rate. The shift to the new fourth-year “on –time” graduation rate is being made in order to comply with The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Under this act, the state of Colorado must move to an accountability system that measures and reports the “on-time” graduation rate. The formula and methodology is based on the National Governors Association (NGA) “Graduation Counts Compact.”

Please review the documents provided by NGA and USED:

Four-Year Cohort Graduation Rate = students graduating within four years or prior with a high school diploma

First-time entering ninth graders four years earlier (minus transfers out, plus transfers in)

Q: What is the major difference between the new four-year, on-time graduation rate and those produced in prior years?

A: In the past, early and late graduates were folded into the current graduating class. In the new rate, a student is assigned an anticipated year of graduation which does not change. Early and late graduates are reflected in three-year, five-year, six-year and seven-year graduation rates based on their assigned anticipated years of graduation.

Q: What is an anticipated year of graduation?

A: The new four-year on-time rate measures the percentage of students who graduate high school four years after entering ninth grade. Thus, when a student initially enters the ninth grade in the Colorado End of Year (EOY) data collection system, an anticipated year of graduation is assigned four years later.

Q: Why did the U.S. Department of Education require this change?

A: The federal government has asked all states to implement an on-time, four-year graduation rate so that data will be more consistent in cross-state comparisons. In prior years there were a wide variety of different methods used to calculate graduation rates.

A: To comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, Colorado must use the four-year on-time formula.

Q: Will the CDE publish historical on-time graduation rates?

A: With the exception of this initial release, the Colorado Department of Education does not plan to publish historical on-time rates for prior year data. However, if the U.S. Department of Education allows the state to use extended-year graduation rates, it will be necessary for CDE to calculate this data on a limited basis for federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) purposes.

Q: Will the state report the new four-year on-time rate as well as “old” rate for 2009-10?

A: Yes, CDE has provided districts (and will provide the public) both these rates, as well as the 2008-2009 rates calculated with both the old and new formulas.

Q: How is it possible that the “on-time” graduation rate reflects an improvement between 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 while the previous formula shows a decline?

A: These are two completely different calculations with unique formulas that tell two different stories. In both sets of data, the increase in the number of graduates is roughly the same—varying only by 388 students. However, the base number of total students considered differs considerably. While the on- time base number changes by only 200 students between the two years, the previous formula’s base numbers are 3,000 students apart. This jump in the base number results in graduation rates moving in opposite directions.

Q: How are students above ninth grade who enter from another state assigned anticipated years of graduation?

A: The first Colorado End of Year record for such a student is used to determine the anticipated year of graduation. A tenth-grader is given three years, an eleventh-grader—two years, and a twelfth- grader—one year. It is important that a district records the appropriate entry grade level in EOY.

Q: What if a tenth-grader transfers into a district from out of state, but he/she only has enough credit for a ninth grade placement?

A: In this situation, a district should record this student as a ninth-grader in the End of Year collection. Otherwise, a first record of tenth-grade in EOY for this student will result in the expectation that this student will graduate in three years, which will be reflected his or her assigned anticipated year of graduation.

Q: What happens if a student is retained in third grade? Will that effect their anticipated year of graduation?

A: No. The anticipated year of graduation is assigned when a student enters ninth grade for the first time in Colorado. This assignment process accommodates the infrequent instance where students briefly enter ninth grade before being retained in eighth grade on or prior to Oct. 1 in the End of Year data collection system.

Q: What students typically don’t graduate in four years?

A: Students participating in five-year programs, such as ASCENT; students who start off below grade level, and students who interrupt their coursework for a semester or more (for work, health issues or any reason at all) may require additional time to complete high school and thus may not graduate in four years. The five-year, six-year and seven-year graduation rates will account for these students.

## Reporting Considerations

Q: Will districts be penalized in the accreditation system as a result of decreased four-year rates?

A: No. According to Administrative Rule (CCR 301-1) for the Administration of the Accreditation of School Districts, the Colorado Department of Education shall ensure, to the extent practicable, that districts, the Charter School Institute and public schools are not penalized for re-engaging students and ensuring that all students successfully graduate.

CDE intends to consider four-, five- and six-year rates to give schools and districts credit for whichever percentage is highest. Prior to the five- and six-year rates being available, CDE will work with districts to ensure this formula change does not adversely affect their accreditation.

Q: How will districts get credit for students who take longer to graduate?

A: A series of rates will be produced to show a district’s progress in meeting the needs of all of the students in a graduating class. Five-, six- and seven-year graduation rates will be produced. Early graduates will be reflected in three-year rates.

Q: If a district recovers dropouts, won’t that hurt its on-time graduation rate?

A: Most likely, yes. However, the district’s five- and six-year rates will subsequently increase and the district’s re-engagement rate will reflect efforts to serve former dropouts.

Q: How will students enrolled in the five-year Accelerating Students through Concurrent ENrollmenT (ASCENT) program be counted?

A: Students in five-year programs will not be counted as graduates in the four-year on-time graduation rate. However, they will be included in the five-year graduation rate if diplomas are obtained upon completing that fifth year. Information regarding students who are still enrolled is provided to districts to show how many students they continue to serve who have not yet completed their high school education.

Q: How will new four-year rate affect AYP calculations? What does NCLB do with this four-year rate?

A: The four-year on-time graduation rate is currently the basis for federal accountability. However,
CDE is planning to request approval from the U.S. Department of Education to use an extended-year graduation rate in federal accountability. If approved, Adequate Yearly Progress determinations will be made for all districts, schools and disaggregated groups based on a five- or six-year graduation rates.

Q: How will the four-year on-time graduation rate impact a school for those students on IEPs and who take longer than four years to graduate?

A: Students who do not graduate in four years do affect the four-year on-time graduation rate. However,
if these students earn a diploma within the following three years, they will be recorded as part of the five-, six- or seven-year graduation rates.

Q: Does the four-year graduation rate trump IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) exception provisions?

A: No. The federal IDEA (34 CFR §300.101) states that a “free appropriate public education [FAPE] must be available to all children residing in the state between the ages of 3 and 21, inclusive, including children with disabilities.” The Preamble to the Act (34 CFR §300.102) in the Federal Register explains further that “the calculation of graduation rates under the ESEA for AYP purposes (34 CFR 200.19(a)(1)(i)) does not alter the exception to FAPE provisions in § 300.102(a)(3) for children with disabilities who graduate from high school with a regular high school diploma, but not in the standard number of years.”

In Colorado, FAPE is available until age 21, even though the child would not be included as graduating for AYP purposes under the ESEA. In practice, though, there is no conflict between IDEA and ESEA. The U.S. Department of Education interprets the ESEA title I regulations to allow states to propose a method for accurately accounting for students who legitimately take longer than the standard number of years to graduate.

Q: Does the four-year on-time graduation rate include students in state-operated programs, eligible facilities and private schools?

A: No; rates are only calculated for public schools.

Q: How will the continuation of dropout recovery efforts impact a district’s accreditation because these students take longer than four years to graduate?

A: A series of rates will be produced showing a district’s progress in meeting the needs of all of the students in a graduating class. Five-, six- and seven-year graduation rates will be produced, and early graduates will be reflected in three-year rates. Also, CDE intends to incorporate student re-engagement rates as part of the evidence considered for accreditation purposes.

Q: How will retention impact the four-year on-time graduation rate?

A: Students who are retained in ninth grade or later may adversely impact the four-year on-time graduation rate, unless intensive educational services are provided in order for them to catch up and complete high school in their anticipated year of graduation.

## Definitions of Terms Used

Instructional Program Service Type (IPST):

Services provided by schools and/or districts for students identified as belonging to one or more of the categories below:

Students with Disabilities:

Students who have been formally identified as having physical or health conditions that may have a significant impact on the student’s ability to learn and therefore warrant placing the student on an Individual Educational Program (IEP).

Limited English Proficient:

This designation encompasses all students identified as either non-English proficient or limited English proficient. Non-English proficient is defined as a student who speaks a language other than English and does not comprehend, speak, read, or write English. Limited English proficient is defined as a student who comprehends, speaks, reads, or writes some English, but whose predominant comprehension or speech is in a language other than English. Districts must provide language services to all limited English proficient students.

Student qualifies for either the free or reduced lunch program. The Federal National School Lunch Act establishes eligibility for the reduced price lunch program for families with income up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level (in 2009, this amount was \$39,220 for a family of four). Families with income up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for the free lunch program(in 2009 this amount was \$27,560 for a family of four).

Migrant:

Students enrolled in a specially designed program for children who are, or whose parent or spouse is a migratory agricultural worker, and who, in the preceding 36 months, in order to obtain, or accompany such parent or spouse in order to obtain, temporary or seasonal employment in agricultural work has moved from one school district to another.

Title 1:

Students that are identified by the school as failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State’s challenging student academic achievement standards on the basis of multiple, educationally related, objective criteria established by the school.

Homeless:

According to the McKinney Act, a “homeless individual”: lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Students who have been formally identified, using district wide procedures aligned with CDE guidelines, as being endowed with a high degree of exceptionality or potential in mental ability, academics, creativity, or talents (visual, performing, musical arts, or leadership.