Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1219edreport19.html

1 in 4 in Arizonas Class of 02 didnt receive a diploma
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 19, 2003
Pat Kossan

A state study released Thursday showed nearly one out of four students of Arizona's Class of 2002 failed to earn a high school diploma after five years. The state knows some students dropped out, but thousands of others simply disappeared from the system.

The study, which tracked the Class of 2002 since its students entered high school, shows that, given the extra year, 76.4 percent of the class made it through high school, a boost from the group's four-year graduation rate of 72.7 percent. State schools chief Tom Horne said Arizona's four-year completion rate is higher than the national rate of 67.3 percent.

"Yet, year after year, we're told we're on the bottom of the barrel in dropout rates," Horne said.

The state Department of Education began tracking the class when the students were freshmen, in 1998, to get a clearer picture of how many kids were actually dropping out. Arizona's dropout rate is notoriously high when compared with other states, but state researchers have called the rankings unfair because each state calculates dropout rates differently.

For example, some count students as graduated if they get an equivalency degree, such as a GED, but Arizona does not.

The study paints this picture for the Class of 2002.

59,753: The number of potential graduates, subtracting those who left the state and adding those who entered during the years 1998-2002.

43,431, or 72.7 percent, earned a diploma in four years.

6,511, or 10.9 percent, lost in the system and called "status unknown."

4,284, or 7.2 percent, official dropouts.

2,234, or 3.7 percent, earned a diploma in five years.

712, or 1.2 percent, earned a high school equivalency degree within four years.

61, or 0.1 percent, earned an equivalency degree after five years.

2,520, or 4.2 percent, untracked kids who didn't graduate.

For the complete report with individual school results, go to http://www.ade.state.az.us.

Reach the reporter at pat.kossan@arizonarepublic.com.