Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kentucky’s new graduation rates raise questions

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) finally released high school graduation rate data today, and it will take some time to go over all of it. However, a first look at the new data, which for the first time has the KDE using a much more accurate calculation developed by the US Department of Education, raises some questions.

For one thing, last year Kentuckians were told our high school graduation rate in 2008-09 was 83.91 percent. Using the new formula, the KDE now more accurately reports the real rate was only 75.11 percent, 8.80 points lower.

It looks like the new calculations from the KDE agree fairly well with those from the US Department of Education for 2007-08. The feds say Kentucky had a graduation rate of 74.4 percent while the KDE calculated 74.99 percent, little more than a half a point higher.

So, here is the full set of graduation rates for the nation and Kentucky calculated by the feds since KERA began plus the new data for 2009 and 2010 from the KDE.

First note the new KDE data shows an increase in graduation rates over the past two years, which reverses a trend of decline from the previous two years. That change in trends may or may not be accurate. We’ll have to wait a year or two for the feds to do their own calculations to be sure.

Finally, even if the very latest data from KDE is correct, note that we still are not seeing rates better than some posted in the early days of KERA. So far, all we have done is to regain lost ground over the past two decades.

More later, so keep tuned.

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