Cohort Graduation Rate for 2011 Shows Increase Over 2010
Allegany County Public School students are receiving diplomas at the highest rate in recent history, according to data released on October 31, 2012, by the Allegany County Board of Education. Additionally, all students in Allegany County met the HSA graduation requirement.
Last year, Maryland moved to the cohort graduation rate, which follows a set group of students from their freshman through senior years, better tracking their progress. The four-year cohort graduation rate jumped almost a full percentage point between 2010 and 2011, from 87.21% to 87.91%. Both rates surpass the State’s graduation rates by 5.24% in 2010 and by 5.09% in 2011. Four-year cohort data for 2012 will be available next year, after summer data collections are finalized.
Data disaggregated by student subgroups finds mixed success. Four-year cohort graduation rates for African American, two or more races, Special Education, and FARMs fell behind the rate of the total group. The 2011 graduation rate for the African American subgroup was 82.14%, while the graduation rate for students in the two or more races subgroup was 81.82%. The graduation rate for Special Education students was 69.62% and was 85.02% for FARMs students.
High School Assessments are no Barrier to Graduation
The 2011-2012 senior class was the fourth one for whom passing the High School Assessment (HSA) in algebra/data analysis, biology, and English was a graduation requirement. The administration of the government HSA exam was stopped last year, but action by the General Assembly in the spring will bring this exam back in May 2013 for students in Allegany County. Passing the government HSA will once again be a graduation requirement for those students who enter ninth grade in the 2013-2014 school year and beyond.
Of the students who received a diploma in the spring, 85.7% met the HSA requirement though examination. Only 14.3% met the requirement through the alternative Bridge Plan for Academic Validation, which is the project-based alternative to the HSA exams.
In 2004, the State Board of Education voted to make passing the HSAs a requirement for receiving a Maryland High School Diploma beginning with the Class of 2009. For the fourth consecutive year, the new data shows that the assessments did not prove to be a hurdle to graduation.
The 2011 data marks the second time that Maryland calculated graduation rates based on cohort data as opposed to the “leaver rate” based on federal rules and regulations. The leaver rate counted all graduates, not just those students who graduate in four years. Allegany County’s leaver rate hit 90.81% as compared to Maryland’s leaver rate of 87% last year.
The development of Maryland’s longitudinal database now allows the State to follow each student in a particular graduating class based on a unique identifier and means that the State could switch to the cohort rate, which is believed to be a more accurate account of students graduating.
Maryland’s new system also allows for developing a cohort dropout rate. Allegany County’s cohort dropout rate fell from 10.36% in 2010 to 9.46% in 2011, as compared to the State’s dropout rate of 11.93% in 2010 and 11.22% in 2011.
The dropout patterns for students in the African American, two or more races, Special Education, and FARMs subgroups mirror the graduation rates. In 2011, all dropout rates for students in these subgroups were higher than for the total group.
Maryland’s ESEA Flexibility
The release of data on October 31, 2012, marks the first high school data release under Maryland’s recently granted flexibility regarding the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act. Under NCLB, all students were required to score at proficient levels by 2014 and progress towards that goal. If targets were not met, schools were in jeopardy of not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Under Maryland’s new “School Progress” plan, each school is measured against its own targets.
The 2011 data begins a new baseline, and schools and school systems are working to cut in half over the next six years (by 2017) the percentage of students not scoring at proficient levels on State assessments. Targets are calculated for all subgroups, including all students, students identified in racial subgroups, and students receiving special services.
Under the School Progress calculation, 100% of Allegany County Public high schools met the target for “all students” this baseline year. The targets will continue to rise over the next six years.
Dr. David Cox, Allegany County Superintendent of Schools, commented, “I am pleased with the progress we have steadily and systematically made to increase our graduation rates. This directly results from the dedicated and focused work of our instructional leaders, teachers and students each day in our classrooms.” He went on to say, “We are undergoing unprecedented and significant changes as we transition to the Common Core Curriculum and PARCC assessments and away from the Maryland State Curriculum and the Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs). In the spring of 2015, our students will have their progress and graduation rates assessed by the PARCC assessments in lieu of the HSAs.”
For more information, visit www.MdReportCard.org.