In 2005, the National Governors Association (NGA) introduced the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate calculation in an effort to move all states towards using a common calculation. The Adjusted Cohort formula has been deemed more accurate than other calculations in its ability to track student movement over time. In 2008, the federal government adopted NGA's formula and mandated that states calculate cohort rates beginning with 2011 graduates.
The State of New Jersey introduced a new graduation rate calculation in 2011 to determine rates for schools and districts. Through NJ SMART, the State's longitudinal student data warehouse, the 4-year adjusted cohort graduation rate calculation is used to derive the graduation rates of students across the state. This newly calculated graduation rate will be published in NJ School Report Cards and No Child Left Behind (NCLB) State Reports, and will figure into Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.
Previously, New Jersey has calculated graduation rates from aggregate data supplied by districts during annual NJ SMART fall collections. Beginning with Cohort 2011, NJ SMART will calculate school, district, and state graduation rates using the adjusted cohort calculation, based on student-level data provided by districts over the past four years.
The adjusted cohort formula essentially divides the number of 4-year graduates (i.e., those students receiving a diploma) by the number of first-time ninth graders who entered the cohort four years earlier. In equation form, the rate calculates:
The adoption of a common national standard in calculating graduation rates will ensure that student movement in and out of districts is tracked over time and that all students are accounted for more accurately and consistently than in the past. NJ SMART's District Reports feature, which grants school districts the ability to view their graduation data from multiple points of analysis, empowers districts to track the status of students and their cohorts throughout their high school tenure. Using this tool, districts can identify emerging trends and effective interventions based on the student-level data that they submit through required and optional NJ SMART data submissions.
Since NJ SMART has tracked student data over time since 2006, it already captures the information necessary to calculate graduation rates with the newly adopted Adjusted Cohort formula.