Grad rates said to be overstated
A study says Hawaii has overreported by up to 16 percent
The state Department of Education is overreporting how many high school students graduate on time by as much as 16 percent, contends a national study released yesterday.
But the DOE is challenging the report by the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Excellence Education, which compared graduation data from government agencies with independent sources.
It found that graduation rates in Hawaii for the 2002-03 school year varied from a high of 80 percent, reported to the No Child Left Behind program, to 64 percent in Education Week, a nonprofit group that examines education issues.
Nationally, the gaps between graduation rates ranged between 4 percent and 36 percent.
The study said the NCLB program requires states to calculate graduation as "the percentage of students who graduate from secondary school with a regular diploma in the standard number of years." However, states have been using a range of statistics that are misleading and significantly underestimate dropout rates, it said.
Clyde Igarashi, support specialist for the DOE, said the study looked at the number of students enrolled between ninth and 12th grades in the 2002-03 to check the probability they would graduate.
"You are not tracking individual students, you are tracking probability," he said.
The study "doesn't care who the 10th-graders are, whether they are the same 10th-graders from the previous year," Igarashi added.
He said the DOE uses a cohort program to track individual students who get degrees within four years of entering high school. The system is adjusted to account for students who leave Hawaii as well as those who transfer from other states during high school, he said.
"We are tracking actual students and we definitely feel our system is more precise," said Greg Knudsen, spokesman for the department.
According to the DOE, both graduation and dropout rates in Hawaii have been steady at about 79 percent and 15 percent, respectively.