Establishing A Uniform High School Graduation Rate

One of the difficulties of establishing a uniform high school graduation rate is that each state has different criteria.  Some states count students in prison as continuing students while others do not.  Some states report student attaining a GED as a graduate while others do not.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced the release of non-regulatory guidance to implement a uniform and accurate measure of the high school graduation rate that is comparable across States.  The uniform high school graduation rate is a critical step toward improving high school accountability.

The non-regulatory guidance released today provides States, local education agencies and schools with information about how to implement the uniform graduation rate regulations, including making data public so that educators and parents can compare how students of every race, background and income level are performing.  This guidance provides the following information:

  • Defines the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, the extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, and the transitional graduation rates that are allowable until States must implement the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.
  • Guides States in setting a single graduation rate goal and annual graduation rate targets.
  • Outlines requirements for reporting graduation rates.
  • Answers questions about how States include the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and any extended-year adjusted cohort graduation rate in AYP determinations, including the use of disaggregated rates for student subgroups.
  • Explains how a State must revise its Consolidated State Application Accountability Workbook to include certain information and submit its revisions to the Department for technical assistance and peer review.
  • Clarifies the timeline for implementing the new graduation rate provisions, as well as the process for how a State that cannot meet the deadlines outlined in the final regulations may request, from the Secretary, an extension of time to meet the requirements.

To read the high school graduation rate non-regulatory guidance, please visit