National Institute of Statistical Sciences/Education Statistics Services Institute Task Force on Graduation, Completion, and Dropout Indicators

Publication Date: 
November 1, 2004

In October 2003, NCES asked the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) and the Education Statistics Services Institute (ESSI) to convene a task force of measurement and policy experts to examine current high school graduation, completion, and dropout indicators (GCD) and recommend improvements in the measures. The task force was asked to consider these issues both in terms of developing indicators for reporting measures of schools and school systems and for broader measures of community-level needs. The recommendations included in the report are: 1. The task force provided specifications for indicators for several rates, including — an on-time graduation rate, a completion rate, a transfer rate, and a dropout rate. These rates require data that follow individual students throughout their high school careers (cohort data); they also all include the ability to adjust for established acceptable exclusions (for example, a student that is documented as a transfer out of a school would be removed from the rates for that school). 2. The task force also recommended that NCES take the lead in working with states to develop the student record systems they require to produce these recommended rates. 3. The task force also recommended that NCES take the lead in coordinating the collection and reporting efforts to help ensure comparability across schools, school districts, and states. This function would include working with states to audit data to assure that the data are recorded properly. 4. In the interest of promoting one unified set of graduation rates, the task force recommended against the interim use of any type of alternative on-time graduation rate indicators. 5. The task force encouraged NCES to continue producing population-based estimates designed for purposes other than evaluating schools or school systems, emphasizing studying the quality of data used to compile the indicators. 6. The task force encouraged NCES to conduct more frequent longitudinal studies following students through high school and into adulthood, including data to better study high school graduates, completers, and dropouts.


Information from NCES