NCLB Attaches More Strings
Until now, states have been permitted to adopt their own definitions of the term “graduation rate,” one of the indicators used to determine if a high school or district has made adequate yearly progress (“AYP”). In what ED has described as the “most far-reaching change” reflected in the new regulations, it has adopted a uniform definition of “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate” that all states must use for AYP purposes.
The regulations define “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate” as “the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class.” The “adjusted cohort” includes “the students who enter grade 9 (or the earliest high school grade) and any students who transfer into the cohort in grades 9 through 12 minus any students removed from the cohort.” Schools and districts may not remove students from a cohort, unless the school or district confirms in writing that such students transferred out, emigrated to another country, or are deceased. With respect to students who transfer out, the school or district must possess “official written documentation” that the student enrolled in another school or program that leads to a regular high school diploma.
Absent an extension from ED, the new graduation rate definition must be used for reporting aggregated and disaggregated data beginning with report cards that publish results of assessments administered in 2010-2011.
The mandated graduation rate is not all of the new ED positions.
Drawing on ED’s experience with its growth model pilot program, the new regulations permit states to seek ED’s permission for the use of “student academic growth” in AYP determinations. A state’s proposed growth model policy must satisfy certain criteria set forth in the regulations, including for example, a description of “how the State’s annual growth targets fit into the State’s accountability system in a manner that ensures that the system is coherent and that incorporating student academic growth into the State’s definition of AYP does not dilute accountability.” State proposals to incorporate growth into AYP definitions are subject to peer review.
(Source: Hogan & Hartson, LLC, Maree Sneed)