State continues to have one of the highest graduation rates in the nation; dropouts less than 3 percent

The Iowa Department of Education released the Class of 2008 graduation rates. Statewide the graduation rate for 2008 is 88.7 percent. Iowa continues to have one of the highest graduate rates in the nation. The dropout rate is less than 3 percent. The 2008 graduation rate is 1.8 percent lower than the 2007 rate of 90.5 percent. The 2008 dropout rate is 0.55 percent higher than the 2007 dropout rate of 2.3 percent.

Some recent reports have provided the number of school dropouts alone and not offered information on the graduation and dropout rates. The adjustment in the two rates is due, in part, to enhancements in Iowa’s data system. The 2008 graduating class is the first group of students to have a statewide identification number for all four years. This has allowed Iowa school districts and the Iowa Department of Education to keep careful accounting of each ninth grader as they progressed through school. The system has provided advancements in determining when a student graduates, even if they moved to a different district in the state during their high school career.

This is part of Iowa’s effort to provide accurate information and to seek improvements to its general data system. The department was recently notified that it has received a federal Statewide Data Systems Program grant for $8.7 million over the next five years. In addition, the department will pursue the more than $250 million available through the stimulus package for educational data systems.

Iowa uses the National Center for Education Statistics’ “leaver rate” to calculate graduation rates. The department has used this rate since 2003. For more information, visit http://www.iowa.gov/educate

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