High school graduation

High School Graduation is the percentage of the ninth-grade cohort in public schools that graduates from high school in four years.

Measure Tabs

Reason for Ranking

It has been shown that as education increases, a person’s overall health increases. Specifically, education is linked to lower rates of premature death, smoking, obesity and inactivity [1]. Specific to achieving a high school education, those that graduate high school are more likely to be employed, less likely to live in poverty and less likely to commit crime [2,3]. Furthermore, education can have multigenerational implications that also make it an important measure for the health of future generations [4,5]. 

Additionally, education levels also positively influence a variety of social and psychological factors [4]. For example, increased education improves an individual’s self-perception of both his or her sense of personal control and social standing, which also have been shown to predict higher self-reported health status [5,6,7].

Measurement Strengths and Limitations

A strength of cohort graduation rates is that they generally only include 4-year graduates with a high school diploma in the numerator. Cohort graduation rates are also able to account for transfers, dropouts, emigrants, etc.

Cohort graduation rates also have several limitations. First, there are differences across states and even schools in determining whether a student is a transfer or a dropout, and this can substantially affect graduation rates because dropouts are still included in a graduation cohort, but transfers are not.[8] Second, there are different rules applied to certain student groups (e.g. incarcerated students, special need students) at some schools; for instance, they may be excluded from the cohort, included in the cohort but given longer to graduate, or included in the cohort with no special considerations. Third, some states include online schools, but students do not necessarily reside in the same county as the online school’s mailing address, so there are problems with assigning an online school to a specific county. Finally, schools which have a large proportion of their cohort as transfer students generally have a disadvantage in terms of graduation rates, as these students may be lacking requirements for their new school.[8]