Hold the celebration: It’s worse than we thought

Patrick Gibbons

NPRI published an article of mine yesterday (“Graduation time: Hold the celebration“) that highlighted the dismal state of affairs in Nevada public education. The article referenced recently released graduation data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and a 2009 report from Education Week. Today, Education Week has issued its 2010 report. In it, you’ll find no good news for Nevada.

According to Education Week’s “Cumulative Promotion Index,” Nevada’s four-year high school graduation rate has fallen from 47.3 percent to 41.8 percent, and is now 27 points below the national average. Over the last decade, Nevada’s graduation rate has fallen 23.9 points. (Note: The 2007 data is the most recent data available.)

Graduation rates fell among all subgroups, with Asian students’ 13.7 point drop representing the steepest decline. African-American, Hispanic and Native American student graduation rates all now sit below 33 percent.

Left-click table to see a larger picture

Education Week also estimates that in Nevada, there will be 23,908 non-graduates this year alone. However, some of these students may graduate with a traditional diploma at a later date or leave with alternative credentials like a GED.

Nevada’s official reported graduation rate for the class of 2007 was 67.5 percent. Nevada uses a “Lever Rate” calculation, which is determined by dividing the total number of students earning a standard diploma by the total of the number of students earning standard diplomas or alternative credentials, plus dropouts. This may allow for additional graduates to be counted as it may not consider the time taken to graduate. According to Education Week researchers, state graduation rates are typically inflated because of poor-quality data on student dropout rates.

NCES reports a four-year graduation rate of 51.8 percent for the class of 2007. NCES and Education Week do not include CTE diplomas as standard diplomas when calculating graduation rates.

CORRECTION: After consulting researchers at Education Week, I learned that they include all graduates as reported by the State. So this would include the Career, Technical and Adult Education but not GEDs or certificates of attendance.