State Education Department

Accuracy of Graduation and Dropout Data in Annual Report Cards for Selected High Schools

The State Education Department is responsible for reporting high school graduation and dropout rates to the public. To do this, the Department publishes an annual report card for each public high school in the State. To determine whether the graduation and dropout rates in the report cards were accurate, we audited the rates published in the 2007 report cards of 12 selected high schools.

We found that the graduation rates reported by two schools, and the dropout rates reported by four, were inaccurate by more than 5 percentage points. For example, one high school reported a graduation rate of 50 percent, when the actual graduation rate was 41 percent. Similarly, another high school reported a dropout rate of 24 percent, when the actual dropout rate was 44 percent. The rates reported by the schools were incorrect because they incorrectly excluded certain students from the calculations, such as students who had supposedly transferred to GED programs when there was no evidence that the students had actually enrolled in such programs. We also determined that, while the Department had some controls in place to ensure the accuracy of the information in the report cards, these controls were not sufficient. We recommended that certain actions be taken to improve the accuracy of the graduation and dropout rates published in high schools’ annual report cards.

For a complete copy of Report 2008-S-45 click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.