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By Charlotte Young

A new federal formula used to report the number of students who finish high school is lowering the graduate rate previously recorded in Ohio’s public schools. According to the Associated Press, the new figures, which came out Wednesday on the state’s annual report cards, display school rankings, graduation and attendance rates and academic gains made in the 2010-11 school year.

With the new standards, the report reveals that several of the largest public school districts’ 2010 graduation rates have heavily decreased.

In Dayton the graduation rank dropped to 59 percent, down from its previous 84 percent. Cincinatti schools saw a decrease of about 82 percent and Cleveland’s record-high graduation rate diminished from 62.8 percent to 52.2 percent.

Graduation rates may have decreased with the new calculations, but Ohoio’s public school rankings improved. With the new system, 2,610 schools achieved an “effective” or “higher” ranking, while 2,495 schools earned the rank last year.

Although most states must switch to the new federal formula this year, the new graduation rates will not be attributed to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements until the 2012-2013 school year. In Ohio the change didn’t put any district on academic emergency, although six districts have been placed on academic watch. In the 2009-2010 school year, only three districts were listed on academic watch.

Cincinnati district spokeswoman Janet Walsh, said that much of the difference came from flaws in the previous calculation method. Foreign exchange students and parochial students who took career education courses were often marked as dropouts.

Transfer students also presented a problem for the old calculation. Walsh relates that about 800 students leave to go to schools in neighboring Kentucky or other states. All of these issues culminated to “artificially inflate” the amount of dropouts recorded in Cincinnati and other public school districts. As for the new formula, Cleveland and Dayton administrators have already released that they’ve found issues with the new formula graduation date collection.

“We have room for improvement no matter which way we calculate,” Eric Gordon, chief executive officer for the Cleveland school district told the AP.

No matter what the system used to calculate graduation rates, administrators across Ohio’s districts say they are committed to and hope to see graduation rates increase. Overall the state saw a graduation rate of 78 percent for 2010, down from the 84 percent calculated using the old formula.

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