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Study: Utah Graduation Rate 7 Percent Below Reported Rate

Study: Utah Graduation Rate 7 Percent Below Reported Rate



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A report that calculated high school graduation rates put Utah's at 78 percent -- seven points below the rate reported by the state.

The report, "Getting Honest About Grad Rates: How States Play the Numbers and Students Lose," was released Thursday by Education Trust, a nonprofit educational promotion organization.

Education Trust compared graduation rates states reported in January 2005 to recalculated rates using an index created by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research and policy center.

Though data is not from the same year, the study asserts it is still a valid comparison because rates don't change much each year. The comparison found that a projected 1.25 million students nationally entered ninth grade in 2000-01 but didn't graduate in 2003-04.

It said the differences between the state-reported rates and the lower recalculated numbers ranged from 33 percentage points in North Carolina to 1 point in Idaho.

"Some states use definitions that defy logic," said Daria Hall, the report's author, who pointed to New Mexico as an example.

New Mexico reports the percentage of high school seniors who graduate and not the number of freshman who make it through the system, Hall said.

Utah officials are skeptical of the study.

"Our method is not perfect, but their method isn't either," said Mark Peterson, spokesman for the state Office of Education.

Peterson said the study only looked at the head count of freshmen to graduates, which inflates the number of dropouts.

Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Patti Harrington said Utah's numbers will become more accurate when unique student identifiers go into effect July 1, and the state will be able to track students as they move from district to district.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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