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Projections of Education Statistics to 2016
NCES 2008-060
December 2007

Projection Methodology: High School Graduates

National

Projections of public high school graduates were developed in the following manner. The number of public high school graduates was expressed as a percent of grade 12 enrollment in public schools for 1972–73 to 2003–04. This percent was projected using single exponential smoothing and applied to projections of grade 12 enrollment to yield projections of high school graduates in public schools. (This percent does not make any specific assumptions regarding the dropout rate. The effect of the 12th- grade dropout proportion is reflected implicitly in the graduate proportion.) The grade 12 enrollment was projected based on grade progression rates. This percent was assumed to remain constant at levels consistent with the most recent rates. This method assumes that past trends in factors affecting graduation ratios, such as dropouts, migration, and public or private transfers, will continue over the projection period. In addition to student behaviors, the projected number of graduates could be affected by changes in graduation requirements, but not considered in the projections in this report.

Projections of private high school graduates were calculated using the same methodology as public high school graduates, using data from 1988–89 to 2002–03.

Projection Accuracy

An analysis of projections from models used in the past 16 editions of Projections of Education Statistics indicates that the mean absolute percentage errors (MAPEs) for projections of public high school graduates were 0.8 percent for 1 year ahead, 0.9 percent for 2 years ahead, 1.6 percent for 5 years ahead, and 3.9 percent for 10 years ahead. For the 1-year-ahead prediction, this means that one would expect the projection to be within 0.8 percent of the actual value, on the average. For more information on the mean absolute percentage errors, see table A-2.

State Level

This edition contains projections of high school graduates from public schools by state from 2004–05 to 2016–17. Public school graduate data from the Common Core of Data survey for 1980–81 to 2003– 04 were used to develop these projections. This survey does not collect graduate data for private schools.

Projections of public high school graduates by state were developed in the following manner. For each state, the number of public high school graduates was expressed as a percent of grade 12 enrollment in public schools for 1980–81 to 2003–04. This percent was projected using single exponential smoothing and applied to projections of grade 12 enrollment to yield projections of high school graduates in public schools. All jurisdictions were projected using the same single exponential smoothing parameter of 0.4. Projections of grade 12 enrollment were developed based on the grade progression rates discussed in appendix A, Enrollment. The projected rates were assumed to remain constant at levels consistent with the most recent rates. This method assumes that past trends in factors affecting public high school graduates will continue over the projection period.

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