Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Information about Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate

Information about the calculation of the Four-Year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR).

The Four-Year ACGR is the number of students who graduate from high school in four years with a regular high school diploma, divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. The four-year cohort is based on the number of students who enter grade 9 for the first time adjusted by adding into the cohort any student who transfers in later during grade 9 or during the next three years and subtracting any student from the cohort who transfers out, emigrates to another country, transfers to a prison or juvenile facility, or dies during that same period.

For the ACGR, a “regular high school diploma” is the standard high school diploma awarded to the preponderance of students in a State that is fully aligned with the State’s standards and does not include a general equivalency diploma, certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or any other similar or lesser credential, such as a diploma based on meeting Individualized Education Program goals. Additionally, for the ACGR, a high school is a secondary school that grants a regular high school diploma and includes, at least, grade twelve (Elementary and Secondary Education Act [ESEA] section 8101[28]).

Beginning with the 2016-17 ACGR, the California Department of Education (CDE) made several important changes to the ACGR calculation methodology, which is used for state and federal reporting. The impetus for these changes was in response to the following:

  • A shortened reporting timeline to facilitate local educational agency (LEA) inclusion of the most recent data available into their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs).
  • Recommendations from the U.S Department of Education Office of Inspector General (OIG) stemming from an audit of California’s processes used to calculate the ACGR based on federal non-regulatory guidance published in 2008.
  • Revised federal non-regulatory guidance published in 2017 that provide further clarification to states on the calculation of the ACGR.

The most significant changes to the 2016–17 ACGR methodology include the following:

  • No longer removing students from the cohort who transfer to adult education programs or community college.
  • No longer counting students who receive an adult education high school diploma as regular high school graduates.
  • No longer counting students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) as regular high school graduates.

In anticipation of these changes, the CDE sent several communications to local educational agencies (LEAs) notifying them about these changes and the potential impact on graduation rates. These communications are available on the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) Communications Web page in the Assessment and Accountability section.

Due to the changes in the methodology for calculating the 2016–17 ACGR and subsequent years, the CDE strongly discourages against comparing the 2016–17 ACGR with the cohort outcome data from prior years, which are available as downloadable data files at the Cohort Outcome Data Web page (2009–10 through 2015–16).

Questions: Data Reporting Office | | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Friday, February 16, 2024
Recently Posted in Accessing Educational Data
  • DataQuest Update, Issue #20 (added 17-May-2024)
    DataQuest is an online data reporting resource that provides access to a wide variety of data reports and downloadable data files.