37,857 Ohio Students May Not Graduate This Year

dc2008-cover-toc.jpgDiplomas Count, an annual report produced in conjunction with Education Week and Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) was released today, measuring high school graduation rates across the nation. Additional information for each state and each U.S. congressional district was also included in the study. The class of 2005 was the most recent graduating class to be profiled.

Nationally, Ohio ranked 16th with a 75.9% graduation rate. Ohio performed five percentage points higher than the national average of 70.6%. New Jersey, Iowa and Wisconsin took the top three spots respectively, with the Garden State posting an 83.3% average graduation rate. Nevada occupied the bottom rung with a 45.4% graduation rate.

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According to the study, over 1.23 million students from the class of 2008 will fail to graduate. Averaged over a typical school year, that means 6,829 students per day will be lost through the “graduation pipeline”. Ohio’s share for this school year amounted to 37,857 students—an average of 210 students per day, 3% of the nation’s total non-graduates.

To calculate the graduation rates, EPE used the Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI), multiplying the three grade to grade promotion rates found in the Common Core Data maintained annually by the U.S. Department of Education. This methodology produced discrepancies in all but 4 of the 50 states’ data.

Thirty two states use the Leaver rate (including Ohio) to calculate their graduation rates. This particular method of calculation shows the state’s graduation rate as the percentage of students who leave high school with a diploma when compared to the number of other students who leave with alternative credentials or drop out.

The study admonishes states that use this method, claiming the Leaver rate “tends to produce inflated results because it relies heavily on undercounted dropout data”. According to the Leaver rate, Ohio posted an 86.2% graduation rate for the class of 2005, but when the CPI was used in the study, Ohio’s graduation rate dipped 10.3%.

Hardest hit was the state of Delaware, suffering a 23.6% drop when their Leaver rate statistics were converted to CPI for the study. The U.S. Department of Education proposed in April changing to a uniform graduation formula so that states could be held more accountable under No Child Left Behind and Title I.

Ohio’s curriculum for the class of 2008 requires 20 credits to graduate, compared to the nation’s 20.6 credits required to earn a diploma. The Buckeye State is in the minority when compared to the rest of the nation, being just one of 23 states requiring an exit exam for graduation—the Ohio Graduation Test, based on 10th grade standards. Ohio is only one of 20 states to have an appeals process in place for students who do not pass one of the OGT’s subject tests.

Serious achievement gaps persist in Ohio, exemplified by the class of 2005. White students graduated at a much higher rate (80.2%) as did Asian American (72.6%) than did African-American (49.9%), Hispanic (48.1%) or American Indian (39.7%) students. In all cases, minority students in Ohio for the class of 2005 graduated at a lower rate than the national average. By gender, female students graduated at roughly a 6% higher rate than did male students when not accounting for race or ethnicity. No data was included in the study for Special Education students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).