Make sense of it if you can: There are now three sets of graduation numbers in Florida. Whichever you go by, the Flagler County School district beats the state’s average for 2010.
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Getting into the details, Flagler Palm Coast High School’s graduation rate fell a full percentage point, to 83.5 percent, while Matanzas’s rate rose more than 6 points, to 90.4 percent. The district average is 83.5 percent, or 3.5 points above the state average. The percentages don’t include GED diplomas.
That’s according to so-called National Governors Association numbers, which Jim Devine, the Flagler district’s numbers and accountability director, says the state is moving toward as the standard, universal rate. That’s the rate used to determine each individual school’s final grade for the year. The graduation-rate component is one of many other factors. (Those grades won’t be revealed for another few weeks.)
Going by the graduation rate that applies to federal standards, FPC’s rate is lower, at 80.9 percent, but is slightly improved from the 2008-09 rate of 80 percent. Matanzas’ rate under federal standards is also lower, at 87.5 percent, but significantly higher than the previous year’s rate of 80.2 percent. The district-wide rate under the federal standard is, oddly, 80.9 percent (a nearly 4-point improvement in one year, driven by Matanzas students). That 80.9 percent is the same as FPC’s. There’s no explanation for the quirk. Either way, both schools are above the state average of 78.2 percent. Keep in mind that under federal standards–the so-called “Adequate Yearly Progress” standards–none of the schools in the district would meet those overall standards, which include 39 components. The graduation rate is just one of those components. To meet AYP standards, a school has to show progress in all 39 categories.
Florida’s graduation rate went up, under state standards, to 79 percent from 76.3 percent the previous year, continuing a five-year trend of increases. Included in the increases was a 3.5 percentage point increase for black students, a 3.2 percentage point increase for Hispanic students and a 2.3 percentage point increase for whites.
“Florida’s improved graduation rate clearly shows that our reform efforts are making a difference in our schools, and most importantly, for our students,” Governor Charlie Crist said. “I applaud our students, parents, teachers and school leaders for their hard work and significant improvement.”
Continuing past trends, Florida’s graduation rate progress is being driven largely by minority students. The results indicate that since 2005-06, black and Hispanic students increased their graduation rates by 13.1 and 13.3 percentage points, respectively, as compared to an 8 point increase for white students.
In September 2009, the Florida State Board of Education approved the state’s new formula which incorporates graduation rates into the grading of high schools. The graduation rate approved by the board uses a formula recommended by the National Governors Association, which includes standard and special diplomas but excludes all GEDs. The NGA rate replaces Florida’s previous calculation, which included all GEDs.
To ensure a more accurate calculation of the graduation rate, Florida employed new, more accurate data collection methods beginning with the 1998-99 school year. Since then, the department has based its graduation rate on data that follows every single student from ninth grade to graduation. Florida currently stands alone nationally in its practice of compiling and following individual student records to determine a true, four-year graduation rate.