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National Institute of Statistical Sciences/Education Statistics Services Institute Task Force on Graduation, Completion, and Dropout Indicators

Abstract

This report will be of interest to evaluators and everyone else who is involved in reporting graduation, dropout, or completion rates. While some parts of it are stiff going, the report makes simple but important recommendations for best practices which, if implemented, might make such data more comparable between sites. The methods recommended give a clear picture of the realities on the ground.

"The Task Force is profoundly concerned that too much focus on "producing the numbers" represented by our recommended graduation, completion, and dropout indicators may lead to a disconnect between indicators and the primary goals of the educational system -- a challenging, exciting experience for students that prepares them for further study and lives as productive citizens. We recommend that NCES undertake or support a program of research to assess the extent to which our recommended graduation, completion, and dropout indicators, or any others, do capture the "right" outcomes. ...although there are preconceptions, it is not clear that graduates from high schools with high graduation rates are more successful than those from high schools with lower graduation rates. For example, further studies of the degree to which each of the different indicators is associated with various measures of later life success (for example, earnings, employment, or additional education) would help to ascertain which measures are most appropriate for which purposes."

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