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Ehrlich to study governors' work on graduation rates

July 21, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich will look over a resolution calling for standardizing how high school graduation rates are figured, according to spokesperson Henry Fawell.

Fawell said the governor missed the National Governors Association conference in Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this week because of personal reasons.

Fawell said Ehrlich plans to review the work that took place at the conference, including "Graduation Counts: A Compact on State High School Graduation Data." Representatives from more than 40 states approved the statement, according to the association's Web site at www.nga.org.

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Bob Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for Washington County Public Schools, said some states have been criticized for how they figure graduation rates.

Brown said Maryland divides the number of students who graduated with diplomas in a given year by the number of diplomas handed out plus the number of students who dropped out in the four years that high school class had been together.

That means even students who drop out one year and return the next and graduate on time count against schools' overall graduation rates, Brown said. Students who drop out, but return in the same year do not count as dropouts, Brown said.

The compact calls for states to implement a standard graduation rate based on the number of on-time graduates in a given year divided by the number of first-time entering ninth-graders four years earlier. According to the compact, the numbers could be adjusted for transfers and students with limited English skills or disabilities.

"It's close to what we do, but we look at them not only as ninth-graders, but we look at what they do as 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders," Brown said.

According to the Maryland Department of Education, Washington County Public Schools' graduation rate last year was 86.58 percent. Figures for this year are not yet available.

The state's target is a graduation rate of 90 percent by 2014, Brown said.

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