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Definitions of Selected Terms

Average Salary: The average salary is based on the contract salaries reported for certificated personnel.

Classroom Teacher: A staff member assigned the professional activities of instructing pupils in self-contained classes or courses. This term includes all teachers. Also see "Selected Classroom Teacher".

Pupil Membership: Pupils in membership as of the October 1 count day.

Pupil/Teacher Ratio: The number of students in membership as of October 1 divided by the full time equivalency of teaching assignments serving these students during the same period of time.

Teacher Turnover Rate: The rate at which personnel whose primary function is classroom teaching leave or separate from the district, or change from their classroom teaching to another position from one school year to another, expressed as a percentage. This rate is determined by comparing the classroom teachers reported in the current year against those reported in the previous year.

Setting Categories

Denver Metro: Districts located within the Denver-Boulder standard metropolitan statistical area which compete economically for the same staff pool and reflect the regional economy of the area.

Urban-Suburban: Districts which comprise the state's major population centers outside of the Denver metropolitan area and their immediate surrounding suburbs.

Outlying City: Districts in which most pupils live inpopulation centers of seven thousand persons but less than thirty thousand persons.

Outlying Town: Districts in which most pupils live in population centers in excess of one thousand persons but less than seven thousand persons.

Remote: Districts with no population centers in excess of one thousand persons and characterized by sparse widespread populations.

Questions and Answers About Colorado Dropout, Graduation and Completer Rates


Who is considered a Colorado dropout? By Colorado law, a dropout is a "person who leaves school for any reason, except death, before completion of a high school diploma or its equivalent, and who does not transfer to another public or private school or enroll in an approved home study program." A student is not a dropout if he/she transfers to an educational program recognized by the district, completes a G.E.D. or registers in a program leading to a G.E.D., is committed to an institution that maintains educational programs, or is so ill that he/she is unable to participate in a homebound or special therapy program.

Who is a transfer? A student is considered a transfer to another district or educational program if the receiving school or program sends for the student's records, or if the sending district can document that the parent or legal guardian has provided information regarding the school or education program into which the student is transferring. This definition of a transfer is in accordance with the Public School Finance Act of 1988, 22-53-207(3), C.R.S.

What if a student just disappears? A student who disappears from school is considered a dropout unless the student transferred to another educational program.

What is the dropout rate? The Colorado dropout rate is an annual rate, reflecting the percentage of all students enrolled in grades 7-12 who leave school during a single school year. It is calculated by dividing the number of dropouts by a membership base which includes all students who were in membership any time during the year. In accordance with a 1993 legislative mandate, beginning with the 1993-94 school year, the dropout rate calculation excludes expelled students.

Can the dropout rate be multiplied by four to find out how many students drop out over the four years of high school? No. The dropout rate is an annual rate only. It is not statistically valid to simply multiply the annual rate by four to find out how many students dropped out during high school. The graduation rate, however, provides a measure of how many students completed graduation requirements.

Can a student drop out more than once? How does that affect the annual dropout rate? Some students have a pattern of dropping out and returning to school several times before they either graduate or drop out and do not return. In the state reporting system, a student is counted as a dropout only once within a given reporting period (i.e., from July 1 through June 30). However, if a student drops out during one school year, then returns to school the following year and drops out again, he/she will be counted in the dropout rate two years in a row.

How valid are Colorado's dropout rates? The Colorado Department of Education provides definitions, guidelines, and training regarding the proper procedures for identifying and reporting dropout statistics. The data are edited and screened upon receipt and a turnaround document with the calculated rates is returned to the district for verification. In submitting the data to the state, each superintendent signs an assurance that the district has followed the required procedures.

How are dropout data reported? Dropout data are reported annually to the Department by Colorado school districts. Dropout data are collected for grades 7-12, by school building and by district. Data are reported separately by sex, ethnicity/race, and grade level of students.


Who is a graduate? In Colorado, local school boards are responsible for establishing the requirements for high school graduation. There is no statewide definition.

Do all Colorado school districts have the same requirements for graduation? No. Each local school board defines graduation requirements for its district. These vary from district to district. The state considers a graduate to be any student who has met the graduation requirements of his or her local school district.

Are there students who complete 12 years of school and do not graduate? Yes. Some districts award certificates or other designations of high school completion or attendance to students who do not complete the standard high school graduation requirements. Also, some students who do not complete the traditional high school graduation requirements do successfully achieve a general equivalency certificate (GED).

Who will be included in the calculation of graduation rate? Two types of rates are calculated by the Department for school districts and for the state: Graduation Rates and Completer Rates.

Graduation Rates. Graduation rates are calculated based on high school graduates only. A graduate is a student who completed locally-defined requirements for graduation. If a student is not considered a graduate by the local board of education, then he/she is not included in the graduation rate calculation.

Completer Rates. Completer rates are calculated based on all students who are graduates, plus those who are not considered graduates but receive another certificate or designation of high school completion.

What happens to students who graduate in the summer? Summer graduates are included in the graduation rate calculation of the current graduating class, or in the following year's graduation rate calculation, based on a district's reporting practice.

What happens if a student was reported as a dropout at some point during his or her high school years and the school subsequently receives information that the student transferred into another educational program? Does that student affect the graduation rate for the class of which he/she was originally a member? No. If the high school has documentation of the student's transfer into another educational program or completion of an educational program, then an adjustment may be made to the membership base used to calculate the graduation rate. These students are not reported as completers from the district, they are taken out of the membership base of the school and treated as if they transferred from the school. However, the dropout rate for the year in which they were reported as a dropout remains unchanged.

What is the graduation rate? The graduation rate is a cumulative or longitudinal rate which calculates the number of students who actually graduate as a percent of those who were in membership and could have graduated over a four-year period (i.e., from Grades 9-12).

A graduation rate will be reported for each particular graduating class (i.e., the Class of 1994). The rate is calculated by dividing the number of graduates by the membership base. The membership base is derived from the end-of-year count of eighth graders four years earlier (i.e., in the spring of 1990), and adjusted for the number of students who have transferred into or out of the district during the years covering grades 9 through 12.

What is the completer rate? The Completer Rate is also a cumulative or longitudinal rate which calculates the number of students who graduate, receive certificates or other designations of high school completion. It is also calculated as a percent of those who were in membership and could have graduated or completed over a four-year period (i.e., from Grades 9-12).

Information needed to calculate graduation and completer rates is available from the dropout data collection system initiated in the 1987-88 school year.

What is meant by the "Class of 2000"? Graduation rates and completer rates will be reported for a particular class. The Class of 2000 will include students who graduated in the spring of 2000 and during the summer of 2000. It may include students who completed high school in three years, four years or longer.