The Early Graduation Year (AYG) cohort formula was designed to measure the adjusted graduation rates of 4 and 7 year old cohorts. This formula is used to calculate the percentage of students who graduated (received a regular diploma) within four years of entering ninth grade, as well as those who may need more time to finish high school, such as those who started below their grade level and students whose courses are interrupted for a semester or more. The 7-year cohort-adjusted graduation rate shows the percentage of students who graduated (received a regular diploma) within seven years of entering ninth grade. North Central has an impressive first-year student retention rate, with 75% of first-year students staying on track. Most of these students are considered “traditional students” who are attending full-time for the first time.
The district has also taken steps to help students re-engage and re-enroll in school, such as hiring a dedicated position to assist with this process. The Greeley district, which serves nearly 22,000 students, including 70% of them students of color and approximately 66% of students who qualify for subsidized lunches, conducted a poverty measurement primarily in person during the pandemic. Despite high school students having hybrid schedules and only two days a week of in-person learning for more than half of the year, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that North Central's official graduation rate was 69%. Across the state, 10,524 students from grades 7 to 12 dropped out of school during the last school year, while nearly half of the 178 school districts recorded a year-over-year increase in their dropout rates. Maegan Daigler, the district's executive director of evaluation and technology, said Sheridan officials found students at the alternative high school who said they wanted to continue their studies, but not while the district was studying remotely. Across the state, the rate of students finishing high school in five, six, or seven years has continued to rise.
To help these students reach their goals, individual school districts can use a “menu” provided by the state that allows them to demonstrate that they are ready to take the next step. This menu includes standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT, an extensive final project, or the completion of courses that allow them to earn college credit while still in high school. Unfortunately, graduation rates declined the most on average in Colorado school districts that serve large numbers of students living in poverty. To combat this issue, high schools identify students at risk of not graduating on time so that they can receive additional support. After six years, North Central's graduation rate was 69%, and by age eight, 69% of the cohort had finished their studies.
It's important to note that graduates are included in the count and rate of students completing their studies, so the counts and completion rates of any school or district will be higher than or equal to the graduation rate. However, racial disparities increased last year, as students of color saw their graduation rates decline while white students did not.