News Column

New Online Tool Compares Graduation Data Nationwide

March 13, 2013

Sarah J. Pawlowski

Parents can now see how their children's school compares to others across the nation thanks to a new tool by the U.S. Department of Education that reports school-level graduation rates.

The provisional report shows four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates for 2010-11, the first school year that all states used a common method for reporting on-time high school graduation.

Julie Grimes, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Education, said the information reported is not new for Virginia.

"We've been using this reporting since 2008," she said. "This is the first (the) U.S. Ed. can make this comparision."

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the online tool helps provide transparent information to parents and students about their schools.

"Having good information is critical to making good decisions, and these high school graduation rates are a vital tool to help parents and school leaders make useful comparisons of student growth and success," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These data will also help state, district and school leaders better gauge progress and support their work to help more students graduate on time, ready for college and careers."

The U.S. Department of Education's local school rankings closely follow data previously released by the Virginia Department of Education. But the data could be confusing. Some schools are ranked with a range or a code to protect privacy. To add to the confusion, the state and federal numbers don't match. Across the board the state's rates are higher than the percentages reported by the U.S. Department of Education.

"That's always been a source of confusion for parents," said Daniel Curry-Corcoran, executive director of accountability for Newport News Public Schools. "When the numbers don't line up, it just raises more questions."

The numbers are different, Grimes said, because the U.S. Department of Education only counts students who receive standard and advanced studies diplomas. Virgina also counts other types, including diplomas with flexibility for English language learners and students with disabilities. But, she said, the Virginia Deparment of Education provides both the state and federal numbers on its website.

"We report both to make sure there's truth in advertising," she said.

To see how your school adds up visit: https://explore.data.gov/Education/Adjusted-Cohort-Graduation-Rates-at-the-school-lev/m5pw-2ea9



Source: (c)2013 the Daily Press (Newport News, Va.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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