Indicator 1: Graduation Rates – Performance Indicator

Data Source: High School Graduation Report

The State of New Jersey introduced a new graduation rate calculation in 2011 to determine rates for schools and districts. Through NJ SMART, the State’s longitudinal student data warehouse, the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate calculation is used to derive the graduation rates of students across the state.

Previously, New Jersey has calculated graduation rates from aggregate data supplied by districts during annual End of the Year Collections. Beginning with Cohort 2011, NJ SMART will calculate school, district, and state graduation rates using the adjusted cohort calculation, based on student-level data provided by districts over the past four years.

The adjusted cohort formula essentially divides the number of 4-year graduates (i.e., those students receiving a diploma) by the number of first-time ninth graders who entered the cohort four years earlier. In equation form, the rate calculates:

The adoption of a common national standard in calculating graduation rates will ensure that student movement in and out of districts is tracked over time and that all students are accounted for more accurately and consistently than in the past.

4-Year Graduation Cohorts

With this new graduation calculation in place, each incoming 9th Grader in New Jersey is assigned to a graduation cohort based on the expectation that each will graduate in 4-years. For example, if a student entered ninth grade in 2011, then she/he would be assigned to the 2015 Cohort. Once a student is assigned a cohort year, they remain in that same cohort regardless of when they actually graduate. In other words, cohorts are assigned once and are not changed if a student becomes “off-track.”

While students are actively enrolled in high school, their status is tracked to determine whether they are on-track or off-track to achieving graduation in four years. Students’ grade levels determine their progress towards graduation. For example, if a student in Cohort 2015 is in eleventh grade during the Fall of 2013, they would be considered “on-track”. However, if a student from the 2015 cohort is enrolled in tenth grade during the Fall of 2013, then they would be considered “off-track” since she/he would be at risk of not graduating within four years.

When a student exits or enters a district, it may affect the district’s cohort size, resulting in an adjusted cohort. For example, if a Cohort 2015 student transfers from District A to District B, then District B’s cohort count is increased by one student and District A’s cohort count is decreased by one student. However, if that student dropped out of District A before being successfully transferring to another district, then District A would be responsible for that student and their cohort count would not be adjusted. Rules determining “district ownership” of individual students have not changed and are clearly documented in NJ DOE regulations.

For more information on Graduation Rate, you may refer to the following document:

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