Graduation rates better, but still disputed
The graduation rate at Hawaii public schools improved slightly in 2005 to 67.4 percent from 64.1 percent in 2004, according to a national study being released today.
The analysis by Education Week ranked Hawaii's graduation rate 39th among the states and the District of Columbia, up from 41st place for the class of 2004.
Hawaii education officials have consistently challenged the ranking, saying it is based on an unreliable comparison of graduates earning a regular diploma with how many students entered high school the same year.
Hawaii uses a cohort system to track students from ninth grade through their senior year, said Glenn Hirata, an evaluation specialist with the state Education Department. It shows that 79.5 percent of Hawaii public school students graduated in 2005, 79.2 percent in 2006 and 78.9 percent last year.
States have used a range of graduation statistics that critics say are misleading and significantly underestimate dropout rates.
To end the reporting discrepancy, the Bush administration suggested in April rules to require school districts nationwide to calculate graduation figures the same way by 2013. It would have schools count how many graduates earn a diploma in four years, and also look at how many students entered high school four years earlier.
Hirata said the proposed method is similar to the model used by the Education Department.