The Common Core of Data (CCD), administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is an annual survey of the state–level education agencies in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and seven other jurisdictions.23 Through this survey, statistical information is collected on all public school districts and their schools, staff, students, and finances. Information is not collected on private schools and their students, homeschoolers, individuals who never attended school in the United States, or those who have been out of a public school system for more than a year.
The dropout data collection was initiated with a set of instructions to state CCD coordinators in the summer of 1991. Those instructions specified the details of dropout data to be collected during the 1991–92 school year. Dropouts are reported for the preceding school year. The 1991–92 data were submitted to NCES as a component of the 1992–93 CCD data collection. Most recently, the 2001–02 dropout data were submitted as a component of the 2002–03 CCD data collection. For the 2001–02 school year, a total of 49 states submitted dropout data to the CCD. Of these, 46 reported using agreed–upon reporting definitions. Those that did not were excluded from the CCD dropout data. Because of these exclusions, CCD data cannot be used to estimate a national–level dropout rate.
Data needed to estimate the averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR), specifically data on diploma awards and enrollment by grade, have traditionally been part of the CCD data collection. Like dropout data, diploma recipient reports are lagged a year (e.g., 2001–02 diploma counts are in the 2002–03 data files). All states reported diploma and enrollment data necessary for calculating the averaged freshman graduation rate, with the exception of diploma counts for 2003–04 for New York and Wisconsin.24