In December 2008, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance to provide States, local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools with information regarding implementation of the requirements in the Title I graduation rate regulations (October 29, 2008.) In preparation for implementation, the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Public School Accountability presented “Every Student Counts: Arkansas Graduation Rate Calculations, Policies and Reporting via compressed interactive video (CIV) March 29, 2011. Below are highlights of the primary requirements for LEAs in the guidance issued. LEAs are required to maintain written documentation on any student who transfers out of the original cohort into a private school, home school, out of state school, emigrates to another country or dies. Additional information regarding the guidance can be found here.
Under 34 C.F.R. §200.19(b)(4)(ii)(A), a State and its LEAs must report the four-year graduation rate on report cards providing assessment results for the 2010-2011 school year. The State must include the four-year graduation rate in AYP determinations beginning with determinations based on the assessments administered in the 2011-2012 school year (34 C.F.R. §200.19(b)(5)(i).
From the beginning of the 9th grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently “adjusted” by adding any students who transfer into the cohort later during the 9th grade and the next three years and subtracting any students who transfer out, emigrate to another country, or die during that same period. Only a student who transfers out and enrolls in another school or in an educational program that culminates in the award of a regular high school diploma, emigrates to another country, or dies may be removed from a high school’s or LEA’s cohort.
To assist districts with accurate documentation for transfers out, three (3) additional dropout/withdrawal codes were added to the Statewide Information System (SIS) database to include “enrolled in private school, enrolled in home school and enrolled in another school out of state”. Before removing a student from a cohort, a school or LEA must obtain confirmation in writing that the student transferred out, emigrated, or is deceased. No other students may be removed from the cohort. Written documentation facilitates audits and, thus, will help ensure that States, LEAs, and schools have an accurate measure of graduation rate.