Yes, we’re making progress on getting students to graduation.
The graphs below give me increasing confidence about that. The first compares 1993 fourth grade enrollment to 2001 graduates, 1994 fourth to 2002 graduates, and so on. The others use sixth, eighth, ninth, and tenth grade enrollment the same way.
If you're wondering why ninth grade shows the smallest percentages, it's because the ninth grade enrollment is always the state's largest. That's partly because of transfers from non-public schools, and heavily because more students repeat grade nine than repeat any other year.
Starting from any grade, graduations look better now than they did a few years ago.
(Notes for readers who love the details: The numbers behind the graphs are below. Earlier posts compared students taking the CATS test to students graduating. The up-side of that method is that it’s nearly impossible to over-count tested students. One down-side is that the CATS data won’t let me reach back to 1993, which is why I used enrollment numbers for this particular post.
Do notice the basic logic of the data. In round numbers, 40,000 graduates out of 50,000 students will always divide out to 80 percent. Any claim that Kentucky public schools have a graduation rate much below the 80 percent mark must show fewer than 40,000 diplomas, more than 50,000 enrollment or both. For recent years, that will be a tough claim to sustain without using the bulging, improbably high, ninth-grade numbers as a starting point.)