This National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) First Look report introduces new data for two separate measures of 4-year on-time graduation rates as well as event dropout rates for school year (SY) 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. Specifically this report provides the following:
The AFGR is a proxy indicator for a cohort rate such as ACGR that utilizes aggregated counts of students by grade and the overall diploma count, as opposed to individual student-level data, to estimate an on-time graduation rate. The AFGR estimate is not as accurate as the ACGR; however, the AFGR can be estimated annually as far back as the 1960s using comparable aggregate data.
Both graduation rates represent the percentage of students who successfully complete high school in 4 years with a regular high school diploma. They do not represent the percentage of all of students who earn a high school credential. This distinction is important because a number of student groups are 1) not considered dropouts and 2) not considered on-time completers. For example
Because the definition of on-time graduation considered in this report is based on a 4-year high school experience resulting in the receipt of a regular high school diploma, the students described in the preceding bullets, while counted within the cohort or enrollment base, are neither dropouts, nor on-time completers.
The 4-year on-time graduation rates presented in this report should not be confused with related rates intended to study different topics. For example, NCES also publishes completion rates calculated from household survey data collected by the Census Bureau. Completion rates indicate the percentage of the population, typically in a specified age range, holding high school credentials in general. They are not sensitive to how long a person might have taken to earn the credential, or to where the credential was earned. Some completion rates also include those earning alternative credentials that represent high school equivalency. Many students counted as “completers” for the calculation of a completion rate might not qualify as on-time graduates in the ACGR or AFGR. Additionally, the inverse of the ACGR or AFGR should not be confused with a dropout rate. Counts of students who have not graduated on time with a regular high school diploma do include dropouts, but also include those who will earn a regular diploma in more than 4 years and those who have or will earn alternative credentials. It is for this reason that NCES also calculates and reports on measures in addition to high school completion, such as the event dropout rate included in this report.
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The event dropout rate is not comparable to other dropout rates released by the Department or elsewhere. Status dropout rates, for example, measure the percentage of a population that did not complete high school (e.g., some percentage of young adults aged 18–24 dropped out of high school).
The calculated totals in this report, identified as “United States” totals in tabulations and “national” estimates in text, include data for only the 50 states and the District of Columbia and exclude data for other jurisdictions.
This First Look provides users with an opportunity to access SY 2010–11 provisional data that have been fully reviewed and edited, and SY 2011–12 preliminary data that have been subjected to a limited data review and editing.3 Neither set of data have been available publicly prior to the release of this report. The data used in this report were collected as part of the U.S. Department of Education’s EDFacts Initiative. NCES uses these data to report, analyze, and disseminate statistical data that describe public elementary/secondary education. SEAs submit aggregate counts of students used to calculate the dropout and graduation rates or actual rates (in the case of reporting the ACGR). The rates included in this report have been reported in whole number percentages or percentage point ranges to prevent any potential disclosure of individual student data.
More detailed explanations of the definitions and methodology used to calculate these rates can be found in Appendix A: Collection Methodology and Sources of Error and Appendix B: Detailed Methodology for Calculation of Four-Year On-Time Graduation Rates and Event Dropout Rates.