Illinois graduation rates tumble under new formula

Hundreds of high schools see rates dip under "more honest" system.

October 31, 2011

School-by-school test scores and graduation rates are available here.

Illinois is releasing report cards for every school in the state today. The annual report card release shows high schools struggled.

The state changed how it calculates the graduation rate this year—to bring it in line with federal guidelines.

The effect: hundreds of high schools saw their graduation rates tumble. 

The new method tracks every student individually and gives kids four years to graduate, not five.

State superintendent Christopher Koch said he supports a consistent way of calculating graduation rates…

"But we do want to give every student a viable option to complete school and shouldn’t punish the district if they take longer," said Koch.

The former special education teacher said not everyone can finish high school in four years.

Koch said Illinois may seek a waiver from the U.S. government.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has said switching to the new uniform formula for calculating graduation rates is "simply being more honest."

High schools also posted record-low results on state exams students took last spring. That’s after the state closed a loophole. Previously schools let their low-performing juniors skip the test.