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PRESS RELEASE

July 22, 2005

Melanie Mowry Etters
(850) 245-0413

Education Commissioner Lauds National Governors Association for Graduation Rate Initiative

TALLAHASSEE — Education Commissioner John L. Winn today applauded the National Governor's Association's (NGA) efforts to develop and implement an accurate high school graduation rate that can be used nationwide. In their recently released report, Graduation Counts, their section titled "Learning from Leading States" recognized Florida as one of only two states nationally with systems already in place that provide accurate data collection and reporting of student outcomes.

"I congratulate the National Governor's Association for recognizing the importance of accurate collection and reporting of data," said Commissioner Winn. "Florida has had an information system that follows individual students throughout their education career since 1987. We were thrilled to be a member of the Task Force and participate in the discussion, particularly when it comes to the importance of data collection and reporting system."

During the 1998-99 school year, in response to legislative requests for an accurate and accountable school-level graduation rate, Florida implemented an adjusted four-year cohort graduation rate based on the compilation and tracking of individual student records. This is made possible by the state's comprehensive education information database which relies on the individual student as the basic unit of analysis.

Florida's high school graduation rate is the percentage of students who graduated within four years of their initial enrollment in ninth grade. Incoming transfer students are included in the appropriate cohort based on their grade level and year of entry into the ninth grade. Deceased students and students who withdraw to attend school in another school system (public, private authorized home education program, or adult education program) are removed from the cohort. Each student in the remaining, adjusted cohort receives a final classification as a graduate, dropout, or non-graduate. Non-graduates include certificate recipients and retained students who remain enrolled. A technical guide for Florida's graduation rate is available online at http://www.fldoe.org/eias/eiaspubs/pdf/gd0304.pdf.

Florida's current graduation rate formula is fundamentally aligned with the Task Force's recommended graduation rate formula. However, the Task Force does make accommodations for states without student-record-based data systems — even though the recommended procedures may represent the best available alternative to the compilation of individual records. While Florida is therefore unable to sign on for full endorsement of the Task Force's recommendations, we are impressed by NGA's outstanding efforts in this initiative.