Measuring High School Graduation Rates at the State Level: What Difference Does Methodology Make?

John Robert Warren and Andrew Halpern-Manners Measuring High School Graduation Rates at the State Level: What Difference Does Methodology Make? Sociological Methods & Research 2009 38: 3-37.

Recent evidence makes clear that states public high school graduation rates are well measured using information from the Common Core of Data (CCD). This article investigates the substantive consequences for the results of empirical analyses of using different CCD-based measures of states’ public high school graduation rates. The authors show that substantive conclusions about the levels, correlates, and predictors of states’ public high school graduation rates are dependent on how those rates are measured using the CCD data. Warren’s (2005) estimated completion rate is the most conceptually and technically sound CCD-based measure, and that measure is improved in this study. The public high school graduation rate for the class of 2004 was about 76 percent, although that rate varied considerably by race/ethnicity and across states.

Key Words: high school dropout • education • measurement

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