recall errors and selective mortality, we suggest that these items be asked only of individuals between the ages of 16 and 45.

In the past few years, dropout and graduation rates have received much attention, in part because of discrepancies in the reported rates. These discrepancies have arisen as a result of different ways of calculating the rates, different purposes for the rates, and different ways of defining terms and populations of interest. The federal government can do much to help ameliorate the confusion about the rates. For instance, in 2008, it provided regulatory guidance about how the rates were to be calculated and reported to meet the requirements of NCLB. The National Governors Association’s definition of graduation rates provides a good starting point for standardizing practice in the way that these rates are determined. However, the definition is not specific enough to ensure that rates are comparable across states. We therefore recommend:

RECOMMENDATION 4-5: The federal government should continue to promote common definitions of a broad array of dropout, graduation, and completion indicators and also to describe the appropriate uses and limitations of each statistic.



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