Q: How is a particular year's graduation cohort created?
A: For the class of 2011, the cohort was created using four Department of Education reports that are submitted at the student level. The reports are the DOE-PE, DOE-RT, DOE-AT, DOE-DM, and DOE-GR.
The following explanation describes how the 2010-2011 graduation cohort was calculated:
9th grade: First, all students who were reported by a school as first –time 9th graders on the DOE-PE (pupil enrollment) report three years prior to the year being calculated are placed in the cohort. For example, when calculating the 10-11 cohort, all students who were reported for the first time as 9th graders in 2007-2008 would be included. This does not include students who may have repeated 9th grade.
10th grade: Next, students who were reported as 10th graders on the 2008-2009 DOE-PE (Pupil Enrollment) report are added in. These must be students who do not exist in the 9th grade group (described above). Generally, these would be students who entered public or accredited non-public school in Indiana for the first time as 10th grade students with the expected graduation year of 2010-2011 (or whichever graduation year is being calculated).
11th grade: Next, students who were reported as 11th graders on the 2009-2010 DOE-PE, who were not previously included in the 9th and 10th grade groups, are added in. Generally, these would be students who entered public or accredited non-public school in Indiana for the first time as 11th grade students with an expected graduation year of 2010-2011 (or whichever graduation year is being calculated).
12th grade: Finally, students who were reported on the 2010-2011 DOE-AT (attendance) report as 12th graders who were not previously included in the 9th, 10th, or 11th grade groups are added in. Generally, these would be students who entered public or accredited non-public school in Indiana for the first time as 12th grade students with an expected graduation year of 2010-2011 (or whichever graduation year is being calculated).
Q: How are students assigned to a school's cohort?
A: Students are assigned to a school's cohort based on the last reported school at which the student was enrolled, using the DOE-PE (pupil enrollment) or DOE-AT (attendance) report (for the class of 2010 and earlier), and using the RT (real time) report (for the class of 2011 and beyond).
Q: How are students moved out of the cohort?
A: By law, students can only be moved out of a cohort for certain reasons. Those reasons include: transfer to a public or non-public school (including a virtual school); withdrawal by parents for homeschooling; transfer out of state; withdrawal due to long term medical condition or death; incarceration or placement by court order; withdrawing from school before graduation, if the student is a high ability student who is a full-time student at an accredited institution of higher education during the semester in which the cohort graduates; missing, location undetermined and student enrolled in Indiana for less than one year; or missing, location undetermined, and student has been reported to Indiana Clearinghouse for Missing Children and Endangered Adults.
For the class of 2010 and earlier, DOE-DM report (Dropout and Mobility) were used to identify students that should be moved out of the cohort (mobile students) or those who should be counted as dropouts. For the class of 2011 and beyond, the DOE-RT (Real Time) report is used. It is important to ensure that students who leave the school are reported on the appropriate DM or RT report.
(Note: for non-public schools that do not report RT data, IDOE will continue to use the DM report to remove students reported as mobile from the cohort).
Q: Why is the graduation rate a four-year rate?
A: State law (IC 20-26-13) indicates that the graduation rate is the percentage of students within a cohort who graduate during their expected graduation year, and expected graduation year is defined as three years after a student is first considered to have entered grade 9.
Q: I have a student who was a 9th grader in 2007-2008 but was retained and was still a 9th grader in 2008-2009. Does that retained student now become part of the 2011-2012 cohort?
A: No. Students don't "jump" cohorts; they always belong to the same cohort. The cohort is defined as "a class of students who attend the same high school and are first considered to have entered grade 9 in the same year." A student always has the same "expected graduation year", which is defined as "the reporting year beginning three years after the reporting year in which a student is first considered by a school corporation to have entered Grade 9" (for example, students who entered grade nine in 2007-2008 would have an expected graduation year of 2010-2011).
By law, Indiana's published graduation rate is a four-year rate. Therefore, if a student is retained or for some other reason does not graduate within four years, then the student will not be counted as a graduate of his or her cohort. Indiana law also states that a student must be counted for only one cohort. Students who are retained stay in the same cohort; they are just considered non-graduates.
Q: What happens to early graduates? Does a school not get credit for them?
A: Yes, a school gets credit for early graduates. However, those students remain part of their expected cohort and will be counted as graduates in the year in which they were expected to graduate.
For example, a student is a ninth grader in 2007-2008, making him part of the 2010-2011 cohort. However, the student graduates in 2009-2010. The student should be reported on the DOE-GR (Graduate) report as a graduate in 2009-2010, but the student will not count as a graduate until 2010-2011. The student's cohort status on the cohort report will be "early graduate."
Q: What about a student who graduates in five years? Does a school get credit for that student?
A: By law, the official graduation rate is a four-year rate. However, students who graduate after four years should be reported on the DOE-GR (Graduate) report. Those students will count toward a school's informational five- or six- (or subsequent year) graduation rate, but the student will not count toward his or her four year cohort's rate.
Q: Are special education students who receive a certificate of completion or students who receive a GED diploma considered graduates?
A: No. By state law and state board rule, graduates are only those who have obtained a high school diploma as defined in 511 IAC 6-7. The term "graduate" or "graduation" does not include the granting of a general educational development diploma under IC 20-20-6 or a certificate of completion under 511 IAC 7-43. These students are not considered dropouts; however, for the purposes of graduation rate calculation, these students are not considered graduates.
Q: By which date must a student have completed all requirements for receiving a diploma in order to be reported as a graduate?
A: A student must have completed all diploma requirements by October 1 of the year following the year in which the graduation rate is being calculated in order to be considered a graduate of that reporting year. For example, to be considered a part of the 10-11 graduating class, a student must complete all graduation requirements by October 1 of 2011.