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Kentucky Graduation Rates May Drop With New Standards

Kentucky has released graduation rates for the 2009-2010 school year. The rates are based off a new formula under No Child Left Behind and appear to have dipped, though that's not an entirely accurate assessment.“You shouldn’t go back and compare the rates that we’ve reported in the past with these new rates. The reason for that is the formulas are so different that there’s no good way to make a comparison,” said Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.The new calculation is called the Averaged Freshman Graduation Rate (AFGR). Eventually every state will conform to the Cohort AFGR. It will make the method for reporting graduation rates uniform nationwide, said the U.S. Department of Education. But because of the stricter standards, graduation numbers may seem to drop, said Gross.“People should not immediately assume that high schools are not doing as good of a job as they have been doing just because those numbers look a little lower,” she said.Under Kentucky’s AFGR transitional formula the Jefferson County School District’s graduation rate is 75 percent. Under Cohort AFGR, that number would be around 69 percent.Idaho, Kentucky and Puerto Rico are three territories that have requested more time to adhere to the new federal formula, wrote Elizabeth Utrup, assistant press secretary with the U.S. Department of Education, in an email.Kentucky has three years to phase in the nation-wide Cohort AFGR. It will be more accurate in collecting data that can be broken down by sex and ethnicity, said the U.S. Department of Education.