NGA Releases Update to 2005 Graduation Counts Compact

WASHINGTON—States are on track to publicly report their high school graduation rates using a common formula by 2012 according to a report from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center). Implementing Graduation Counts: State Progress to Date 2008 documents states progress updating their data systems in order to report their high school graduation rate using the common NGA formula.

In 2005, governors of all 50 states signed the NGA Graduation Counts Compact to implement voluntarily a common formula for calculating their state’s high school graduation rate. The NGA Compact contained four key commitments:

  • to use a common, four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate formula;
  • to build state data collection and reporting capacity;
  • to develop additional student outcome indicators; and
  • to report annually on their progress toward meeting these commitments.

"Better information on student outcomes is imperative for states to develop effective policies that ensure all students graduate from high school,” said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "Governors agree that a voluntary, common and more accurate definition for high school graduation rates is critical to account for the status of their students as they progress through high school and beyond."

According to the report, 16 states currently use the NGA Compact formula to calculate their high school graduation rate and another five states plan to use the formula later in 2008. Thirty-six states now have the information systems they need to collect longitudinal data and are tracking cohorts of students as they progress through the school system. Within four years, every state committed to the NGA Compact should have high school cohort data that will allow them to report their graduation rate using the same formula.

For more information about the NGA Graduation Counts Compact, please visit

NGA Graduation Counts Compact Formula

Graduation Rate = [students graduating within four years with a diploma]
[(first-time entering ninth graders four years earlier)]


Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s, most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, visit