Adjusted graduation rates by race/ethnicity, public schools in Washington

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Why This Indicator Matters

Disaggregated data is presented to provide a preliminary understanding of disparities by race and ethnicity. On its own, this data tells a limited story about the populations it represents. We encourage users of this data to engage with communities of color to develop a more accurate and meaningful understanding than these data allow.
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Definitions: On-time graduation rates represent the percentage of students who graduated from high school four years after they started the ninth grade, disaggregated by race/ethnicity.  Extended graduation rates represent the percentage of students who graduated, including those who graduated after the year in which they were expected to graduate (5-year graduation rate), disaggregated by race/ethnicity.  Both on-time and extended graduation rates shown here were calculated using the the "Adjusted Cohort Calculation" method.

From 2012-13 on, all graduation rates are calculated using only this methodology (see below for details).  Cohorts are made up of students based on the year that they entered 9th grade for the first time.  Adjustments are made when students transfer into or out of a Washington public high school and therefore join or leave that cohort. 

The same definition applies to racial/ethnic categories. That is, the cohorts are made up of students, by race/ethnicity, based on the year they entered 9th grade for the first time.

Data Source: Data for this measure come from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Data were retrieved on February 7, 2021 from OSPI Data Portal at

S: Data have been suppressed due to low numbers. Data were suppressed if the enrollment of students served was 10 or less. 

Footnotes: Data last updated in February 2021 by Washington KIDS COUNT.

Race/ethnicity is self-reported by either students or parents/guardians. When students report more than one racial/ethnic category, OSPI reports the category listed first. Therefore, the racial/ethnic categories are not mutually exclusive.

The methodology for calculating graduation rates in Washington state has changed in recent years.  The new method shown in this series uses the "Adjusted Cohort Calculation."  OSPI reported graduation rates for the 2010-2011 and 2011-12 school year using both the traditional ("Estimated Annual Calculation") and new methodology.  Starting with the 2012-13 school year, OSPI will report using only the adjusted cohort method. The new methodology differs enough that historical comparison with previous years is not recommended.  

For more information about the changes in methodology, read OSPI's report here.

OSPI defines the two methodologies as follows:

"Estimated Annual Calculation (traditional method): Washington’s traditional method of calculating the graduation rate is based on a composite cohort of students, using data from a single school year. The estimated annual graduation rate applies a compilation of dropout rates across the four high-school grade levels to the number of that year’s 12th graders. This rate also has an adjustment for students who continue to be enrolled after four years. For example, students who are in 9th grade during 2010-11 and drop out in that year are factored into the 2011 graduation rate. The same is true for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders enrolled in those grades during 2010-11."

"Adjusted Cohort Calculation (new method): The adjusted cohort methodology follows a single cohort of students over four and five years, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Education. This method makes no modification for students whose expected graduation timeframe is longer than four years. In other words, it does not allow “cohort reassignment” for special education or limited English proficiency students. The calculation also adjusts for students who transferred into a Washington public high school for the first time and joined the cohort. Similarly, students who are confirmed transfers out of public school in Washington are removed from the calculation. 

The key is that students are placed in a cohort based strictly on their first time entering ninth grade; thus it is a more rigorous metric than Washington’s traditional graduation calculation. Students are permitted to take additional time to graduate, but will not be counted as on-time graduates if it takes longer than four years to complete, and will not be considered five-year graduates if they take longer than five years."