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Graduation Cohort Rate

Posted: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 4:10pm Updated: Tue, 07/07/2015 - 10:51am

An accurate measure of the high school graduation rate is a critical step toward improving high school accountability and improving our understanding of the characteristics of the population of students who do not earn regular high school diplomas or who take longer than four years to graduate. Numerous reports and statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor indicate the importance of a high school diploma. For example, in 2006, the unemployment rate for high school dropouts aged 25 and older was more than 1.5 times the rate of individuals who had a high school diploma (6.8 percent compared to 4.3 percent, respectively). Data for the same year also show that median annual earnings for high school graduates were nearly 32 percent higher than the earnings of those who did not receive a high school diploma. These data make very clear the high economic costs of not completing high school.

In August 2004, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a report synthesizing the recommendations of a panel of experts on graduation rate calculations. The panel recommended an adjusted cohort graduation rate as the best method for calculating the graduation rate. In 2005, the National Governors Association (NGA) Task Force on High School Graduation Rate Data also recommended that all States adopt and begin immediately taking steps to implement a standard four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate consistent with that proposed by the NCES panel.

The Indiana General Assembly was ahead of the nation. In 2003, the General Assembly passed legislation (codified at IC 20-26-13) that instructed the Department to begin using a new method for calculating high school graduation rates in 2005-06 (the first time four years of student-level data would be available), making Indiana among the first states to calculate graduation rates based on student-level information.

The formula begins by establishing a cohort (or class) of first-time freshmen that expands and contracts as students transfer in and out of school during the years that follow. Since a student never moves to a different cohort, we have an accurate measure of the percentage of students who graduate in four years or less. By publishing five and six year rates, we account for those students who persist even though they do not graduate in the standard number of years.

Graduation Rate Audit

Indiana Code 20-26-13-12 provides that the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) shall calculate, for each public and accredited nonpublic high school, an estimated graduation rate that is determined by the total number of graduates for a particular year divided by the total number of students enrolled in Grade 9 at the school three years before that year. For any school where the difference between the estimated graduation rate and the reported four-year cohort graduation rate is more than five percent, IDOE must request the written documentation which supports removing a student from the cohort because of transfer or any of the other circumstances enumerated in IC 20-26-13-10.

For any school that cannot provide written proof supporting the removal of a student from the cohort, IDOE shall require the publication of a corrected graduation rate in the next school year's Annual Performance Report under IC 20-20-8-3.

Additionally, the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) approved of a two-part process for A-F appeals. The first part consists of voluntary data audits of cohorts conducted by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). The second part provides schools with the opportunity to appeal to the SBOE regarding substantive issues with the application of the rule and any negative or undue impact the rule may have on the school. Schools that have concerns with the data utilized for A-F purposes may request an audit of the appropriate data collections.

The IDOE began accepting voluntary submissions for the graduation rate/cohort audit on Friday, March 27, 2015. Any school that identifies issues with its 2014 graduation rate, as published by the IDOE, may submit to a voluntary graduation rate/cohort audit. If a school does not pursue an audit, the IDOE maintains that the school did not identify any errors with the graduation rate and that the graduation rate was determined based on accurate data. Please note that requests for graduation rate audits or review of data collections related to graduation rate will not be accepted during the A-F audit in Fall 2015; this is the last opportunity for schools to have their graduation rates audited. All audit submissions must be submitted and received by the IDOE no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 24, 2015.

Audits may be submitted online at The submitting user must have the Corporation Administrator role (for traditional and charter public schools) or School Administrator role (for non-public schools) to complete the electronic submission. Additional information concerning roles, including how to request specific roles, can be found on the DOE Online Help site:

Non-Waiver Graduation Rate

The non-waiver rate excludes those graduates who received a diploma with a waiver and have not met the basic expectation that all students pass the state’s Graduation Examination before exiting high school with a diploma.

Students can receive graduation waivers in three ways: 1) by successfully completing Core 40 coursework; 2) by demonstrating to the satisfaction of the high school that they have met the achievement standard measured by the Graduation Examination through other means; or, 3) by completing an internship and a workforce readiness assessment.

2013-2014 Statutory Graduation Rate Data

General Information on Statutory Graduation Rates