Text: S.3627 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (09/26/2008)


110th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 3627


To improve the calculation of, the reporting of, and the accountability for, secondary school graduation rates.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

September 26 (legislative day, September 17), 2008

Mr. Harkin introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions


A BILL

To improve the calculation of, the reporting of, and the accountability for, secondary school graduation rates.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Every Student Counts Act”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) To retain the competitive edge of the United States in the world economy, it is essential that America's youth be prepared for the jobs of today and for the jobs of the future. Such jobs increasingly require a postsecondary education, and almost 90 percent of the fastest growing and best paying jobs require some postsecondary education according to a 2008 Department of Labor report.

(2) Individuals without a secondary school diploma experience higher rates of unemployment, incarceration, living in poverty, and receiving public assistance than individuals with at least a secondary school diploma.

(3) Approximately one-third of all secondary school students in the United States fail to graduate with their peers, which is about 1,230,000 secondary school students every year. According to the Department of Education, the United States secondary school graduation rate is the lowest the rate has been since 2002.

(4) The graduation rates for historically disadvantaged minority groups are far lower than that of their white peers. Little more than half of all African-American and Hispanic students will finish secondary school on time with a regular secondary school diploma compared to over three-quarters of white students.

(5) Nearly 2,000 secondary schools (about 12 percent of all secondary schools in the United States) produce about half of the Nation's secondary school dropouts. In these schools, the number of seniors is routinely 60 percent or less than the number of freshmen 3 years earlier. While almost half of the Nation's African-American students and nearly 40 percent of Latino students attend these dropout factories, only 11 percent of white students do.

(6) The graduation rate calculations used by most States for reporting and accountability are inconsistent and misleading. Not only does this obscure the graduation rate crisis, particularly for poor and minority students, but it also makes it impossible to compare graduation rates across schools, school districts, and States.

(7) The average gap between State-reported and independently reported graduation rates is approximately 12 percent.

(8) In 2005, all 50 of the Nation's Governors signed the National Governors Association's Graduation Rate Compact, pledging to use a common, accurate graduation rate. However, since only a few States use the Compact rate for Federal accountability purposes in 2008, it is necessary to operationalize common calculations and accountability for secondary school graduation rates.

(9) In 2008, the Secretary of Education released proposed regulations that also require States to report a unified graduation rate calculation. That both States and the Federal Government have taken action on this issue shows that there is a growing consensus that a common graduation rate calculation is necessary as part of a meaningful Federal accountability system.

(10) The most accurate graduation rate calculations are reliant on high-quality longitudinal data systems that track individual student data from the time a student enters the kindergarten through grade 12 educational system until the student leaves the kindergarten through grade 12 educational system. In 2008, 36 States have the 4 elements of a statewide longitudinal data system that are necessary to calculate the National Governor’s Association Compact rate at the school level.

(11) Forty-nine States should have secondary school data that will allow the States to use the National Governor's Association Compact rate formula not later than school year 2011–2012.

(12) An accountability system with meaningful graduation rate goals—

(A) holds schools, school districts, and States responsible for both student achievement and outcomes; and

(B) ensures that low-performing students are not unnecessarily held back or pushed out (encouraged to leave school without a diploma).

(13) As implemented, the amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) made by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (Public Law 107–110) do not require consistent calculations, meaningful goals, or disaggregation of graduation rates. This means that most secondary schools can make adequate yearly progress despite a consistent, or even a growing, graduation gap or by making as little as 0.1 percent improvement or less in graduation rates each year.

SEC. 3. Purposes.

The purposes of this Act are—

(1) to require consistent calculations and reporting of secondary school graduation rates across schools, school districts, and States;

(2) to provide educators with critical information about students' progress toward secondary school graduation; and

(3) to ensure meaningful accountability for the improvement of secondary school graduation rates for all students, particularly those rates for poor and minority students.

SEC. 4. Secondary school graduation rates.

Subpart 1 of part A of title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 1111 (20 U.S.C. 6311) the following:

“SEC. 1111A. Secondary school graduation rates.

“(a) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) ADJUSTED COHORT; TRANSFERRED IN; TRANSFERRED OUT.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—Subject to subparagraphs (C)(ii) through (F), the term ‘adjusted cohort’ means the difference of—

“(i) the sum of—

“(I) students who enter grade 9 together; plus

“(II) any students that transferred in to the cohort in any of grades 9 through 12; minus

“(ii) any students removed from the cohort.

“(B) TRANSFERRED IN.—The term ‘transferred in’ when used with respect to a secondary school student, means a student who enrolls after the beginning of the entering cohort's first year in secondary school, up to and including enrolling in grade 12.

“(C) TRANSFERRED OUT.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘transferred out’ when used with respect to a secondary school student, means a student who the secondary school or local educational agency confirms has transferred to another school or another educational program for which the student is expected to receive a regular secondary school diploma.

“(ii) CONFIRMATION REQUIREMENTS.—

“(I) DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED.—The confirmation of a student's transfer to another school or educational program described in clause (i) requires documentation from the receiving school or program that the student enrolled in the receiving school or program.

“(II) LACK OF CONFIRMATION.—A student who was enrolled, but for whom there is no confirmation of transfer or completion, shall not be considered a transfer or an error, but shall remain in the cohort as a nongraduate for reporting and accountability purposes under this section.

“(iii) PROGRAMS NOT PROVIDING CREDIT.—A student enrolled in a GED or other alternative educational program that does not issue or provide credit toward the issuance of a regular secondary school diploma shall not be considered transferred out.

“(D) COHORT REMOVAL.—To remove a student from a cohort, a school or local educational agency shall confirm that the student has transferred out or is deceased.

“(E) TREATMENT OF OTHER LEAVERS AND WITHDRAWALS.—A student who was retained in a grade, enrolled in a GED program, aged-out of a secondary school or secondary school program, or left secondary school for any other reason, shall not be considered transferred out, and shall remain in the adjusted cohort.

“(F) SPECIAL RULE.—For those secondary schools that start after grade 9, the cohort shall be calculated based on the earliest secondary school grade at the secondary school.

“(2) ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL SETTING.—The term ‘alternative educational setting’ means—

“(A) a secondary school or secondary school educational program that—

“(i) is designed for students who are under-credited students or have dropped out of secondary school; and

“(ii) awards a regular secondary school diploma; or

“(B) a secondary school or secondary school educational program designed to issue a regular secondary school diploma concurrently with a postsecondary degree or not more than 2 years of college credit.

“(3) CUMULATIVE GRADUATION RATE.—The term ‘cumulative graduation rate’ means, for each school year, the percent obtained by calculating the product of—

“(A) the result of—

“(i) the sum of—

“(I) the number of secondary school students who graduate with a regular secondary school diploma in 4 years or less; plus

“(II) the number of additional secondary school students who graduate with a regular secondary school diploma in more than 4 years with a regular secondary school diploma (which shall not include a GED or other certificate of completion or alternative to a diploma except as provided in paragraph (6)(B)); divided by

“(ii) the sum of—

“(I) the number of secondary school students who formed the adjusted cohort for that graduating class 4 years earlier; plus

“(II) the number of additional graduates; multiplied by

“(B) 100.

“(4) 4-YEAR ADJUSTED COHORT GRADUATION RATE.—The term ‘4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate’ means the percent obtained by calculating the product of—

“(A) the result of—

“(i) the number of secondary school students who graduate in 4 years or less with a regular secondary school diploma (which shall not include a GED or other certificate of completion or alternative to a diploma except as provided in paragraph (6)(B)); divided by

“(ii) the number of secondary school students who formed the adjusted cohort for that graduating class; multiplied by

“(B) 100.

“(5) ON-TRACK STUDENT.—The term ‘on-track student’ means a student who—

“(A) has accumulated the number of credits necessary to promote to the next grade, in accordance with State and local educational agency policies; and

“(B) has failed not more than 1 semester in English or language arts, mathematics, science, or social studies.

“(6) REGULAR SECONDARY SCHOOL DIPLOMA.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘regular secondary school diploma’ means the standard secondary school diploma awarded to the preponderance of students in the State that is fully aligned with State standards, or a higher diploma. Such term shall not include GEDs, certificates of attendance, or any lesser diploma award.

“(B) SPECIAL RULE.—For a student who has a significant cognitive disability and is assessed using an alternate assessment aligned to an alternate achievement standard, receipt of a regular secondary school diploma or a State-defined alternate diploma aligned with completion of the student's right to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) shall be counted as graduating with a regular secondary school diploma for the purposes of this section, except that not more than 1 percent of students served by the State or local educational agency, as appropriate, shall be counted as graduates with a regular secondary school diploma under this subparagraph.

“(7) UNDER-CREDITED STUDENT.—The term ‘under-credited student’ means a secondary school student who is a year or more behind in the expected accumulation of credits or courses toward an on-time graduation as determined by the relevant local educational agency's and State educational agency's secondary school graduation requirements for an on-time graduation.

“(b) Calculating and reporting accurate graduation rates.—

“(1) CALCULATING GRADUATION RATES.—Not later than school year 2011–2012, and every school year thereafter, each State educational agency and local educational agency that is assisted under this part and uses a statewide longitudinal data system with individual student identifiers, shall calculate for each school served by the State or local educational agency, as the case may be—

“(A) the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate; and

“(B) the cumulative graduation rate.

“(2) CALCULATION AT SCHOOL, LEA, AND STATE LEVELS; DISAGGREGATION.—The 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the cumulative graduation rate shall be calculated at the school, local educational agency, and State levels in the aggregate and disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, migrant status, English proficiency, and status as economically disadvantaged, except that such disaggregation shall not be required in a case in which the number of students in a subgroup is insufficient to yield statistically reliable information or the results would reveal personally identifiable information about an individual student.

“(3) REPORTING GRADUATION RATES.—Subject to paragraph (4), not later than school year 2011–2012, and every school year thereafter, each State educational agency, local educational agency and school that is assisted under this part shall report annually, as part of the State and local educational agency report cards required under section 1111(h), each of the following:

“(A) 4-YEAR ADJUSTED COHORT GRADUATION RATE.—The 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, in the aggregate and disaggregated by each of the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(B) CUMULATIVE GRADUATION RATE.—The cumulative graduation rate, in the aggregate and disaggregated by each of the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(C) NUMBER OF STUDENTS GRADUATING IN MORE THAN 4 YEARS.—The number of secondary school students graduating in more than 4 years with a regular secondary school diploma, disaggregated by the number of years accounted for in the cumulative graduation rate and by each of the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(D) NUMBER OF STUDENTS REMOVED FROM COHORT.—The number of secondary school students who have been removed from the adjusted cohort, in the aggregate and disaggregated by each of the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(E) PERCENTAGE OF CONTINUING STUDENTS.—The percentage of students from an adjusted cohort that began 4 years or more earlier who have not graduated from and are still in secondary school.

“(4) USE OF INTERIM GRADUATION RATE.—In the case of a State that does not have an individual student identifier longitudinal data system, with respect to each graduation rate calculation or reporting requirement under this section, the State and local educational agencies and secondary schools in the State shall temporarily carry out this section by using an interim graduation rate calculation that meets the following conditions:

“(A) NUMBER OF GRADUATES COMPARED TO NUMBER OF STUDENTS.—The calculation shall measure or estimate the number of secondary school graduates compared to the number of students in the secondary school's entering grade.

“(B) DROPOUT DATA.—The calculation shall not use dropout data.

“(C) REGULAR SECONDARY SCHOOL DIPLOMA.—The calculation shall count as graduates only those students who receive a regular secondary school diploma.

“(D) DISAGGREGATION.—The calculation shall be disaggregated by the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(E) ANNUAL BASIS AND RATE OF GROWTH.—The calculation shall be used on an annual basis to determine a rate of growth, as described in subsection (c).

“(F) TIMEFRAME LIMITATION.—The interim graduation rate calculation may only be used through the end of school year 2010–2011.

“(G) REPORTING USE OF INTERIM GRADUATION RATE.—Each State that receives assistance under this part shall describe the interim graduation rate used in accordance with this paragraph in the State's plan submitted under section 1111.

“(5) REPORTING PERCENT OF ON-TRACK STUDENTS.—Not later than school year 2011–2012, and every school year thereafter, every State educational agency, local educational agency, and school that receives assistance under this part shall report annually, as part of the State and local educational agency report cards required under section 1111(h), the percent of on-track students for each secondary school grade served by the State educational agency, local educational agency, and school, respectively, other than the graduating grade for the secondary school, in the aggregate and disaggregated by each of the subgroups described in paragraph (2).

“(6) REPORTING ADDITIONAL INDICATORS.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—A State may report additional complementary indicators of secondary school completion, such as—

“(i) a college-ready graduation rate;

“(ii) a dropout rate;

“(iii) in-grade retention rates;

“(iv) percentages of students receiving GEDs, certificates of completion, or alternatives to a diploma; and

“(v) in the case of a State with exit examinations, students who have completed course requirements but failed a State exam required for secondary school graduation.

“(B) DEFINITIONS FOR INDICATORS.—The Secretary shall promulgate and publish in the Federal Register regulations containing definitions for the indicators described in clauses (i), (ii), and (iii) of subparagraph (A) that are consistent with the definitions used by the National Center for Educational Statistics, in order to ensure that the indicators are comparable across schools and school districts within a State.

“(C) PROHIBITION.—For purposes of reporting or accountability under this section, the additional indicators shall not replace the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate or the cumulative graduation rate.

“(D) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit a State from reporting indicators of secondary school completion that are not described in subparagraph (A).

“(7) DATA ANOMALIES.—

“(A) IN GENERAL.—When an individual student record indicates a student was enrolled in more than 1 secondary school or a student record shows enrollment in a secondary school but no subsequent information, such student record shall be assigned to 1 adjusted cohort for the purposes of calculating and reporting school, local educational agency, and State 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rates and cumulative graduation rates under this subsection.

“(B) SPECIAL RULE.—A student who returns to secondary school after dropping out of secondary school, or receives a diploma from more than 1 school or educational program served by any 1 local educational agency, shall be counted—

“(i) only once for purposes of reporting and accountability under this section; and

“(ii) as part of the student's original adjusted cohort.

“(8) MONITORING OF DATA COLLECTION.—Each State that receives assistance under this part shall conduct regular audits of data collection, reporting, and calculations by local educational agencies in the State. The Secretary shall assist States in their efforts to develop and retain the capacity for collection, analysis, and public reporting of 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and cumulative graduation rate data.

“(c) School, local educational agency, and State accountability.—

“(1) GRADUATION RATE GOAL.—Each State that receives assistance under this part shall seek to have all students graduate from secondary school prepared for success in college and work.

“(2) GRADUATION RATE CALCULATION.—Each State that receives assistance under this part shall use aggregate and disaggregated cumulative graduation rates as the additional indicator described in section 1111(b)(2)(C)(vi) for the purposes of determining each secondary school's and local educational agency's adequate yearly progress.

“(3) ANNUAL MEASURABLE OBJECTIVES.—The Secretary shall require a State, local educational agency, or school that receives assistance under this part and has a cumulative graduation rate below 90 percent in the aggregate or for any subgroup described in subsection (b)(2), to increase the cumulative graduation rate, in the aggregate or for such subgroup, respectively, in order to make adequate yearly progress under section 1111(b)(2), as follows:

“(A) BASELINE FOR CUMULATIVE GRADUATION RATES.—Subject to subparagraph (B), the cumulative graduation rate calculated and reported in accordance with this section for the first school year that begins after the date of enactment of Every Student Counts Act shall serve as the baseline graduation rate. Each school year thereafter, cumulative graduation rates calculated at the school, local educational agency, and State levels in the aggregate and disaggregated for each subgroup described in subsection (b)(2) shall be evaluated for annual growth in accordance with subparagraph (C).

“(B) BASELINE ADJUSTMENT.—In the case of a State that uses an interim graduation rate, after the State has implemented an individual student identifier longitudinal data system and can calculate the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the cumulative graduation rate, but not later than the 2011–2012 school year, the State shall use the cumulative graduation rate as the baseline graduation rate for reporting and accountability under this section.

“(C) ANNUAL GROWTH.—

“(i) IN GENERAL.—In order for a State, local educational agency, or school to make adequate yearly progress under section 1111(b)(2), the State, local educational agency, or school, respectively, shall demonstrate increases in the cumulative graduation rate from the baseline graduation rate, in the aggregate and for each subgroup described in subsection (b)(2), by an average of 3 percent per school year, until the cumulative graduation rate, in the aggregate and for each such subgroup, equals or exceeds 90 percent.

“(ii) AYP NOT MADE.—A secondary school shall not be considered to have made adequate yearly progress under section 1111(b)(2) if—

“(I) the school's 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, in the aggregate or for any subgroup described in subsection (b)(2), falls below the cohort's initial baseline graduation rate or shows no improvement over a 4-year period, except as provided in clause (iii); or

“(II) fewer than 90 percent of the students included in the cumulative graduation rate, in the aggregate or for any subgroup described in subsection (b)(2), are students who graduate from secondary school in 4 years.

“(iii) SPECIAL RULE.—A secondary school or secondary school educational program that is an alternative education setting may apply to the State to use an alternatively calculated 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate for purposes of determinations under clause (ii)(I) if—

“(I) the secondary school or educational program submits to the State—

“(aa) a description of the secondary school or educational program; and

“(bb) a proposed alternatively calculated 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate; and

“(II) the State approves the use of the alternatively calculated 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate for such purposes.

“(4) DELAYED APPLICABILITY TO SCHOOLS.—Paragraphs (2) and (3)(C) shall not apply to a secondary school until the beginning of school year 2011–2012.

“(d) Reporting requirement.—Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of the Every Student Counts Act, and annually thereafter, each State educational agency that receives assistance under this part shall submit to the Secretary, and make publicly available, a report on the implementation of this section. Such report shall include—

“(1) a description of each category, code, and the corresponding definition that the State has authorized for identifying, tracking, calculating, and publicly reporting student status; and

“(2) if using an interim graduation rate pursuant to subsection (b)(4), a description of the efforts of the State to implement the cumulative graduation rate and the expected date of implementation, which date shall not be later than the beginning of school year 2011–2012.”.

SEC. 5. AYP conforming amendments.

Section 1111(b)(2)(C) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6311(b)(2)(C)) is amended—

(1) in clause (vi), by striking “and” after the semicolon;

(2) in clause (vii), by striking the period and inserting “; and”; and

(3) by adding at the end the following:

    “(viii) complies with the requirements of section 1111A.”.


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