The Education Law Center analyzes the new federally-mandated formula for calculating high school graduation rates. Unlike NJ’s current practice of basing rates on how many seniors receive diplomas, the new formula “divides the number of 9th graders four years earlier, adjusted for transfers in and out.” Also, graduation rates will be disaggregated for student subgroups. Explains ELC,
Knowledgeable observers predict that NJ's graduation rate under the new formula could be about 5% lower than current estimates. But the drop could be much more dramatic in some districts. In 2009, for example, Newark calculated a 54% graduation rate using the new formula. Under the old formula still in use by NJDOE, the official rate was 88%. Such wide disparities are likely to surface this year, especially in districts with poor records of tracking dropouts and weak data systems. It will be important to remember that changes in the graduation rate represent a change in the formula used for reporting, not a drop in the number of students graduating from one year to the next.