Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo

Information about Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate

High-level overview of the Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate and Outcome data sources, DataQuest reports, downloadable files, definitions, and business rules helpful to understanding the data reports and downloadable data files.

Overview of the Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate

The methodology for calculating the five-year cohort graduation rate is a process to determine the year 5 high school outcomes for non-graduates included in the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate (ACGR) from the preceding year. As such, the four- and five-year cohort graduation rates share the same cohort of students in common, all of whom started grade 9 at the same time and were expected to graduate on-time four years later. Unlike the four-year ACGR, the five-year cohort is not adjusted by adding students who transferred in during year 5, subtracting students who transferred out during year 5, or removing students who emigrated to another country or transferred to a prison or juvenile facility during year 5. Rather, the five-year cohort is largely held constant in year 5 to reduce artificial fluctuations in the five-year cohort graduation rate based solely on cohort adjustments to the denominator (transfers in, transfers out, and removals) that are allowed in the four-year ACGR.

For the purposes of calculating the five-year cohort graduation rate, the preceding four-year final cohort serves as the denominator for the five-year cohort graduation rate. From there, the following cohort "adjustments" are permitted when calculating the five-year cohort graduation rate:

  • Students who transfer to and subsequently graduate from a California public high school during year 5 are added to the receiving school's cohort (denominator) and counted as graduates (numerator) in the five-year cohort graduation rate for the receiving school. These same students will remain in the sending school's cohort (denominator) and be counted as a "transfer" (numerator) in the five-year cohort outcome for the sending school.

  • Students who were removed from the four-year cohort for a valid reason that return to a California public high school and graduate during year 5 are added to the receiving school's cohort (denominator) and counted as graduates (numerator) in the five-year cohort graduation rate for the receiving school.

  • Students who die during year 5 are removed entirely from the school's cohort (denominator) and will not receive year 5 outcome.

  • Students whose four-year cohort outcome (numerator) has changed in year 5, positively or negatively, will be updated in the five-year cohort graduation rate to reflect the most recent status.
All non-graduates in the four-year ACGR are assigned one of the following five-year cohort outcomes that reflects their final high school status by the end of year 5: regular high school diploma graduates, non-graduate completers, transfers, or dropouts and non-completers (Note: Please see the five-year cohort outcome definitions below). At the state-level, all five-year cohort students are counted once and assigned the best cohort outcome achieved during the five-year cohort period. However, due to allowable year 5 cohort adjustments, some five-year cohort students may belong to more than one school cohorts with different outcomes for the sending and receiving school that reflect the year 5 outcome at each the sending and receiving school (e.g., transfer and high school graduate). At the state-level, all students who transfer to another California public high school during year 5 of the five-year cohort period and who do not graduate from or otherwise complete high school are counted as "Dropouts and Non-Completers" for the five-year cohort graduation outcome. Additionally, at the state-level, students who emigrate to another country or transfer to a prison or juvenile facility during year 5 are counted as "Transfers" for the five-year cohort outcome. For these reasons, the five-year cohort graduation rate will generally be equal to or greater than the corresponding four-year ACGR from the preceding year to account for and measure the increase in year 5 graduations relative to a stable underlying cohort.

The five-year cohort graduation rate data are publicly available as data reports through DataQuest, the California Department of Education's (CDE's) public data reporting website. Supporting five-year cohort graduation rate downloadable data files are also publicly available on the CDE's website.

Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate Data Sources

The CDE has developed five-year cohort graduation rate reports and supporting downloadable data files using data submitted by local educational agencies (LEAs) and charter schools to the California Department of Education (CDE) as part of regular student enrollment, demographic, and program subgroup updates submitted to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS) Operational Data Store (ODS). These data are used to establish a high school graduation cohort by identifying the year students first enter grade 9, account for student movement throughout the cohort period, make demographic and student group determinations, and assign a final outcome for each student in the cohort. Please contact the district or school if you have any questions about the data they submitted to CALPADS.

Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate DataQuest Reports

The following state-wide five-year cohort graduation, outcome, and comparison reports are publicly available on DataQuest for multiple academic years:

These DataQuest five-year cohort graduation rate, outcome, and comparison reports are also available at the county-, district-, and school-levels.

Using the Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate Reports

Similar to other recent DataQuest reports, these five-year cohort graduation rate reports include expandable (+) Report Description, (+) Report Glossary, and (+) Report Options and Filters sections at the top of each report. Within the expandable (+) Report Options and Filters sections, users will find the following sub-sections that include a number of useful report options and data filters:

  • Report Selection: Within this area, users can select different five-year cohort graduation rate reports, select a county, district, or school, and change the report year.

  • Data Type Options: Within this area, users can select how the data are viewed within the report; either by Race/Ethnicity, Program (Student) Group, or Academic Year (Multi-Year). The default report configuration is by Race/Ethnicity. Within this area, users can also select reports that show data for all counties in the state, all districts in a county, or all schools in a district.

  • Report Filters: Within this area, users can apply a variety of school type filters (i.e., charter/non-charter and alternative/regular schools), demographic and student group filters. Additionally, users can apply one or more filters simultaneously to view data for various student groups. Applied filters are viewable in the "Filtered Enabled" section above each report where the filters can also be reset.

  • Display Options: Within this area, users can change data displayed numbers to be displayed as percentages.

Charter School Filters

Charter school data are removed by default from all district-level DataQuest five-year cohort graduation and outcome reports. To include charter school data in district-level reports, select the "Reset Filters" button on district-level reports to show data for "All Schools" OR select the desired School Type filter (i.e., All Schools, Charter Schools, or Non-Charter Schools) from within the expandable Report Options and Filters menu on the DataQuest five-year cohort graduation report. To maintain comparative consistency with the related four-year ACGR data from the preceding year, results produced using the School Type report filter on the DataQuest five-year cohort graduation rate reports are based on the charter school status at the end of the four-year ACGR reporting period.

Note: The "non-charter" default filter view is ONLY applicable to district-level reports and is NOT applicable to "Report Totals" on state-, county-, or school-level reports.

Alternative School Filters

The Alternative School filter is strictly intended to facilitate comparisons of the five-year cohort graduation rate for traditional charter and non-charter schools by allowing for the removal of alternative schools, which generally serve "high-risk" student populations. To maintain comparative consistency with the related four-year ACGR data from the preceding year, results produced using the Alternative School report filter on the DataQuest five-year cohort graduation rate reports are based on the on the Dashboard Alternative School Status (DASS) at the end of the four-year ACGR reporting period. More information regarding the DASS program can be found at Dashboard Alternative School Status.

Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate Downloadable Data Files

The following five-year cohort graduation rate downloadable data file is publicly available on the CDE website for multiple academic years:

These files include state-, county-, district-, and school-level five-year cohort graduation rate data disaggregated by race/ethnicity, program (student) group, gender, and academic year. Information about the data elements included in these files and how the data are structured is included in the File Layout pages. For detailed examples about how to properly use these data, please refer to the Using the Five-Year Graduation Rate and Outcome Data File webpage.

Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate Definitions

The following definitions provide important information to help users understand how the five-year cohort graduation rate data were processed and how the CDE calculated the five-year cohort outcomes, rates, and the associated demographic and student group determinations. Additional definitions and information can be found in the DataQuest Five-Year Cohort Graduation Rate and Outcome report description and glossary.

Cohort Graduation Rate

The five-year cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduated from high school at the selected entity-level (e.g., school, district, county, or state) within five years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year at the same selected entity-level, plus any new students who transfer to and graduate from the selected entity-level during the five-year cohort outcome period.

Cohort Outcome Period

For the calculation of the five-year cohort graduation rate, the period for determining cohort inclusion is 07/01/Year1 – 06/30/Year4; however, the period for determining cohort outcomes is 07/01/Year1 – 08/15/Year6. This provides LEAs with an additional year beyond the four-year cohort outcome period (07/01/Year1 – 08/15/Year5) to report cohort graduates, including an opportunity to report year 5 summer graduates through 08/15/Year6. All cohort graduation requirements, including the awarding of the diploma, must be completed by the end of the five-year cohort outcome period (August 15).

Cohort Removals

For the five-year cohort graduation rate, only a student who dies may be removed from a high school's or LEA's cohort. Before removing a student from a cohort, a school or LEA must obtain official written confirmation has died. No other cohort removals are permitted for the five-year cohort graduation rate.

Cohort Students

The five-year cohort is based on the final adjusted four-year cohort from the preceding year at the selected entity-level (e.g., school, district, county, or state). Students are added to the final adjusted four-year cohort from the preceding year at the selected entity-level only if they transfer to and graduate from the selected entity-level during the five-year cohort outcome period. This includes students who were removed from the four-year adjusted cohort for a valid reason and return and graduate during year 5. Students who transfer to but do not graduate from the selected entity-level during year 5 are not added to the five-year cohort at the selected entity-level; however, these students will remain in the cohort of the sending entity-level and be counted in the “Transfers” outcome category.

Cohort Transfer

A transfer into a five-year cohort at a selected entity-level (e.g., school, district, county, state)only occurs when a student belonging to the final adjusted four-year cohort from the preceding year ora student removed from the four-year cohort from the preceding year transfers to and graduates from the selected entity-level during year 5 of the five-year cohort outcome period. Students may not transfer out of the five-year cohort (see "Cohort Removals"). Students who transfer to but do not graduate from the selected entity-level during year 5 are not added to the five-year cohort at the selected entity-level; however, these students will remain in the cohort of the sending entity-level and be counted in the "Transfers" outcome category.

Dropouts and Non-Completers (Outcome)

Those five-year cohort students who (1) do not graduate with a regular high school diploma, (2) do not otherwise complete high school as a non-graduate completer, or (3) are still enrolled in high school at the end of the five-year cohort outcome period.

Gender Status

For five-year cohort students who belonged to the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, information about student gender is determined based on the most recent data available in CALPADS during the four-year cohort outcome period. For these students, information about student gender is not updated in year 5 to ensure stable comparisons of the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the five-year cohort graduation rate. For five-year cohort students who were removed from the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, but return and graduate during year 5, information about student gender is determined based on the most recent data available in CALPADS as of the date the student was exited from CALPADS or at the end of the five-year cohort outcome period.

High School

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)).

Non-Graduate Completers (Outcome)

Those five-year cohort students who do not receive a regular high school diploma within the five-year cohort outcome period, but who otherwise complete high school during the five-year cohort outcome period through one of the following paths during the five-year cohort outcome period and at the same entity-level (e.g., school, district, county, state) associated with the final four-year adjusted cohort:

  • Adult Education High School (H.S.) Diploma Completers: Those five-year cohort students who withdrew from a regular high school without receiving a regular high school diploma to enroll in an Adult Education Program and the district/school has acceptable documentation that the student received an adult basic education high school diploma through an adult basic education program.

  • California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) Completers: Those five-year cohort students who withdrew from a regular high school without receiving a regular high school diploma after passing the California High School Proficiency Exam (Education Code Section 48412(2)).

  • GED Completers: Those five-year cohort students who withdrew from a regular high school without receiving a regular high school diploma and the district has acceptable documentation that the student received a High School Equivalency Certificate by passing one or more of the following exams: the General Educational Development (GED) exam, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) exam, or the High School Equivalency Test (HiSet).

  • Special Education Certificate of Completion: Those five-year cohort students with exceptional needs (having an individualized education program [IEP]) who received a certificate or document of educational achievement or completion for meeting the requirements of Education Code Section 56390.

Note: Students who transfer to a selected entity-level during year 5 and complete one of the above outcomes during year 5 will be counted as "Transfers" at the "sending" entity-level for the five-year cohort graduation rate and as "Non-Graduate Completers" in the state five-year cohort graduation rate outcome. Year 5 transfer students are not added to a cohort for the "receiving" school, district, or county unless they also graduate during year 5.

Race/Ethnicity Status

For five-year cohort students who belonged to the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, information about student race/ethnicity is determined based on the most recent data available in CALPADS during the four-year cohort outcome period. For these students, information about student gender is not updated in year 5 to ensure stable comparisons of the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the five-year cohort graduation rate. For five-year cohort students who were removed from the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, but return and graduate during year 5, information about student race/ethnicity is determined based on the most recent data available in CALPADS as of the date the student was exited from CALPADS or at the end of the five-year cohort outcome period.

Regular High School Diploma Graduates (Outcome)

Those five-year cohort students who receive 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 (IEP) goals. The term "regular high school diploma" also includes any "higher diploma" that is awarded to students who complete requirements above and beyond what is required for a regular high school diploma (ESEA section 8101[43]; 34 Code of Federal Regulations [C.F.R.] § 200.34[c][2]) OR as specified in California Education Code (EC) section 51225.1, a student in foster care, a student who is homeless, or a former juvenile court school student who transfers between schools any time after the completion of the pupil's second year of high school, completes all requirements specified in EC Section 51225.3.

Student Group Status

For five-year cohort students who belonged to the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, information about student group statuses (i.e., English learner, students with disabilities, socioeconomically disadvantaged, migrant, foster, and homeless statuses) is based on a determination for each student indicating that they belonged to the student group at any point during the four-year cohort outcome period. For these students, information about student group status is not updated in year 5 to ensure stable comparisons of the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate and the five-year cohort graduation rate. For five-year cohort students who were removed from the final four-year adjusted cohort from the preceding year, but return and graduate during year 5, information about student group status is based on a determination for each student indicating that they belonged to the student group at any point during the five-year cohort outcome period.

Transfers (Outcome)

Those five-year cohort students who, during year 5 of the five-year cohort outcome period, transfer from the selected entity-level (e.g., school, district, or county) associated with the final adjusted four-year cohort from the preceding year without completing high school. This includes all five-year cohort students who transfer and enroll in another U.S. high school (in or out of state), or in an educational program (including a program in a prison or juvenile facility) from which the student is expected to receive a regular high school diploma, or emigrates to another country. At the state-level, all students who transfer to another California public high school during year 5 of the five-year cohort period and who do not graduate with a regular high school diploma or otherwise complete high school as a "Non-Graduate Completer" are counted as "Dropouts and Non-Completers" for the five-year cohort graduation outcome.

Questions: Data Reporting Office | dro@cde.ca.gov | 916-327-0219 
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, February 2, 2022
Recently Posted in Accessing Educational Data
  • Teaching Assignment Monitoring Outcomes (added 30-Jun-2022)
    Reports and data about teaching assignment monitoring outcomes disaggregated by subject area, school type, school grade span, teacher credential level, and teacher experience level. Data are reported in full-time equivalency (FTE) units.