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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Graduation Rate Standard for 2010 AYP Determinations and Graduation Rate Goal and Annual Targets

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:December 4, 2009

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At our November meeting, I brought to your attention the need to establish both a graduation rate standard for the 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) determinations and yearly graduation rate targets to meet an ultimate goal. I am bringing this to you earlier this school year because the U.S. Department of Education (USED) is requiring that all states set a graduation rate goal with associated targets by January 15, 2010.

In March of last year, you approved the following standard for the 2009 AYP determinations:

  • a four-year graduation rate of 65 percent applied to the 2008 graduation cohort, or
  • a five-year graduation rate of 70 percent applied to the 2007 graduation cohort, or
  • a two percentage point increase in the four-year graduation rate from the 2007 cohort to 2008 cohort.

I asked staff of our department to prepare analyses to help inform my recommendation for both an AYP standard for the 2010 school year and a graduation rate goal for all schools in the Commonwealth. My recommendation for the graduation rate standard for the 2010 AYP determinations for all schools and subgroups is as follows:

  • a four-year graduation rate of 70 percent applied to the 2009 graduation cohort, or
  • a five-year graduation rate of 75 percent applied to the 2008 graduation cohort, or
  • a two percentage point increase in the four-year graduation rate from the 2008 cohort to 2009 cohort.

This recommendation represents the third consecutive year that we have chosen to increase the graduation rates standard for our high schools. The graduation rate is a four-year statistic that is difficult to change drastically in one year, so even the most effective remedial efforts will take some time to be fully reflected in the rate. Even so, we estimate that this change in the standard will affect the AYP determinations of fewer than five schools.

In addition, I am recommending that you adopt the following graduation rate goal for schools and subgroups in the Commonwealth: a 95 percent four-year graduation rate and 100 percent five-year graduation rate. If adopted, all schools will be expected to achieve this goal by 2018. I have included a chart with this memorandum that illustrates the standards that will be applied until 2018. I am recommending that we move to the 70 and 75 percent four-year standard for the 2010 and 2011 AYP determinations and then increase both the four-year and five-year targets by five percentage points every two years.

We will continue to include an improvement component in our AYP calculations and while I am comfortable with a two percentage point increase for both the 2010 and 2011 AYP determinations, I would like to see the trajectory of our graduation rate improvements before committing to that level for the remaining years. It is possible that I will recommend a more rigorous improvement component in the future in order to keep schools on pace to meet the overall graduation rate goal.

I believe these recommendations strike a fair balance between rigorous standards and a fair accountability system that recognizes the progress that our schools are making. Following your vote on these recommendations, I will keep you updated as to their approval by the USED.

In the interim, should you have any questions or need further information, please contact Robert Curtin, our Director of Data Analysis and Reporting, at 781-338-3582, Matthew Pakos, the Department's Director of School Improvement Grant Programs, at 781-338-3507; or me.

Enclosure:

Download MS EXCEL Document
Graduation Rate Goals and Targets


Last Updated: December 8, 2009
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