Kentucky High School Graduation Rates
Graduation rates are a fundamental indicator of whether or not the nation’s public school system is doing what it is intended to do: enroll, engage, and educate youth to be productive members of society. In today’s increasingly competitive global economy, graduating high school is a critical step towards securing a good job and a promising future. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education report released in 2006, about 1.2 million each year leave high school without a diploma, and graduation rates for poor and minority students are even lower. This number means that about 7000 students drop out of school daily. The failure to graduate every child prepared for the 21st century has serious consequences for both individual students and the rest of American society. Yet, the unacceptably low graduation rates of America’s youth have been obscured for far too long by inaccurate data, misleading calculations and reporting, and flawed accountability systems.
On the national scene, enrollment in public schools is rising with more diversity according to The Condition of Education 2008 report released by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
“This report allows us to take a big-picture look at the condition of American education,” said NCES Commissioner Mark Schneider. “What we see are improvements, such as higher math and reading scores for 4th- and 8th-graders, and increases in college enrollment. But persistent challenges remain in educating a growing and increasingly diverse population.”
State graduation credit requirements:
In Kentucky, 22 credits are required in order to graduate from high school: Mathematics – 3; English/Language Arts – 4; History – 3; History/Social studies – 3; and other credits – 9.
Officially reported state graduation rates:
According to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Non Academic Data Report released May 19, 2009, graduation rates at the state level rose from 83.72% in 2007 to 84.52% in 2008, a 0.8 point increase.
State data is suspect - Audit says so:
There is considerable evidence that the formula and procedures used to generate the official graduation rates in Kentucky are subject to significant errors.
Due to serious questions about the accuracy of Kentucky's graduation and dropout rate reporting, the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts conducted an official audit of the program in October of 2006. The resulting report shows dropout rates across the state are notably under-reported by at least 30 percent, and possibly much more.
Because Kentucky's erroneous dropout rates are currently used to calculate the graduation rates, the result is that the official data, as shown in the figure above, overstate the true graduation rate for Kentucky.
Other examples of the inflation in the current official graduation rates for Kentucky are found in disagreement in the available data for school districts.
Jefferson County school district, one of the 50 largest school districts in the country had a drop out rate of 4.5% and a graduation rate of 74.64% in 2005 according to official data from the Kentucky Department of Education. The graduation rate conflicts with the graduation rate of 63.4% reported by Education Policy Research Center in the mapping tool that accompanied the “Diplomas Count 2008” report.
One is left to wonder what accounts for the 11.24% difference in these two rates for Jefferson County. It has been noted by some Education analysts that states have a tendency of inflating their graduation rates. Different states, researchers and analysts use different criteria and formulas to calculate graduation rates.
Better graduation rate calculations coming
With the release of the 2009 Nonacademic Data Report, the Kentucky Department of Education announced that the state will soon be shifting to a new formula to compute graduation rates. Full information is in this Wiki site item High School Graduation Rates in Kentucky.
Beyond High School: College Retention and Graduation.
Preparation for Postsecondary Education
The performance of Kentucky’s elementary and secondary education system has improved somewhat over the past decade. Despite the improvement, Kentucky continues to lag behind the nation in several areas.
According to the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), recent high school graduates and returning adults are both significantly under-prepared for postsecondary education. Students who enter postsecondary under-prepared must enroll in developmental, or remediation, programs and are much less likely than well-prepared students to ever obtain a postsecondary degree. The trends in remedial course requirements for students of all ages entering college and for recent Kentucky high school graduates who to directly on to college within the next year are shown below.
According to CPE, Kentucky lags far behind other states in the percentage of students who obtain either an associate degree in three years or baccalaureate degree within six years.However, The good news is that the state has made striking progress in completion rates at the associate degree level. At the bachelor’s degree level, the progress has been much slower.