Schott Foundation Applauds New U.S. Department of Education Data Collection Method

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The Schott Foundation for Public Education applauds the U.S. Department of Education’s development of a new, uniform method of calculating high school graduation rates common to all states.

Previously, states calculated and reported graduation rates differently with variance in the number of years it takes a student to earn their diploma, the types of diplomas awarded, individual student tracking vs. enrollment numbers, etc. Consequently, comparing graduation rates across the country was like comparing apples and oranges and prevented meaningful nationwide analysis of data. The new method requires states to track individual students and report how many first-time 9th graders graduate with a standard diploma within four years.

“Monday’s release of preliminary data underscores the extreme achievement gaps that we have been highlighting for nearly a decade through our series of reports on Black male educational achievement, using a similar uniform formula,” said Dr. John H. Jackson, Schott President and CEO.

The Schott Foundation’s reports on Black males in public education, the latest released in September, point to an alarming opportunity gap between Black male students and their White classmates—particularly in graduation rates. Only 52 percent of Black male ninth-graders graduate from high school four years later, compared to 78 percent for White non-Latino males.

The report attributes these disparities in graduation rates to the twin pushout and lockout crises that are disproportionately impacting students of color. As a result of ineffective and discriminatory school discipline policies, students of color are both subject to harsher punishments and more likely to be given out-of-school suspensions than their White peers. This places them at greater risk of dropping out of school and becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Those who navigate through this pushout crisis are still likely to be locked out of the types of educational resources and opportunities they need to thrive academically. This lockout crisis affects their access to such fundamental resources as early childhood education, highly qualified teachers, equitable funding and college preparatory materials.

“Providing accurate data for what is going on in our nation’s classrooms is a crucial first step toward systemic solutions that address the pushout and lockout crises,” Jackson said. “We look forward to the development of common definitions for high school graduation aligned with measures of college and career readiness and the availability of this data at the district and school levels.”