Promoting Power FAQ's
Promoting Power FAQ's
What is Promoting Power?
Promoting power compares the number of twelfth-grade students in a school to the number of ninth graders three years earlier. It is designed to estimate the proportion of high school students who make it to their senior year. For example, if a school's promoting power is 80 percent it means that the number of twelfth graders is 80 percent of the number of ninth graders three years before. If a school does not have a ninth grade, the indicator is calculated as the ratio of twelfth to tenth graders instead. It is not a graduation rate because it does not measure how many students received diplomas.
|Class of 2010 Promoting Power =||# of students in grade twelve in the 2009-10 school year|
|# of students in grade nine in the 2006-07 school year|
The promoting power indicator was originally developed by a team of researchers led by Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters, then of Johns Hopkins University. Detailed information and analysis can be found at the Everyone Graduates Center: http://www.every1graduates.org .
Why is Promoting Power Used?
Although states will soon be reporting graduation rates in a uniform way, there has historically been no graduation rate calculation used for every school in the country. Instead, the way graduation rates have been computed differs by state, rendering apples to oranges comparisons. However, by drawing on a national database, promoting power can be used to consistently approximate how many students are making it to graduation on time for schools across the country. This indicator allows researchers to identify schools, districts, and regions that may be struggling to graduate their students. Although it is only an estimate of graduation rates, and one that can be affected by other factors (see "data limitations" below), having a low promoting power should serve as a "check engine" light for a school.
What data is used to calculate promoting power?
Promoting power is calculated using school enrollment numbers that are self-reported to the Common Core of Data (CCD), housed at the National Center for Education Statistics, Institute for Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. The CCD contains information on nearly all public elementary and secondary schools, school districts, and other educational administrative and operating units across the country.
What schools were included/Why can't I find my school?
To be included in the promoting power database, a school had to have at least grades 10, 11, and 12 (the minimum grades needed to calculate the promoting power ratio), had to have a total enrollment of 100 students or more, and had to be designated a regular or vocational school. Special education and alternative schools were excluded because many have frequent enrollment shifts or are schools where a four-year graduation is not expected, both of which make promoting power less meaningful. Similarly, schools with fewer than 100 students were excluded because changing the status of just a few students could dramatically affect the promoting power, undermining its usefulness. All schools included had to be in existence in the 2005-06 school year.
What are the limitations of promoting power?
It is important to remember that promoting power is a check engine light, a critical but occasionally imprecise indication of how successfully students are being promoting across the country. Some factors may skew a school's results:
- Promoting power does not account for students who make it to the twelfth grade but ultimately do not graduate. In schools where this is a significant number of students, promoting power will overestimate graduation rates.
- Promoting power is affected by student mobility, those who transfer in or out of the cohort between the times that the ninth- and twelfth-grade enrollment counts are taken. It can underestimate graduation rates for high schools in communities that have many students leave the system because of demographic shifts, school changes, or losses of major employers. Analysis of available migration data, however, shows that no more than 5 percent of high schools are likely to be affected by high rates of students transferring out between ninth and twelfth grade.
- Similarly, students who are held back between ninth and twelfth grade will also decrease a school's promoting power, regardless of their ultimate outcome.
- Finally, promoting power may be skewed for schools or districts that are experiencing dramatic structural changes, like the opening and closing of schools, the breakup of large comprehensive schools, or events that involve reconstituting high schools.
Conservative reporting: Three-year average vs one-year promoting power
In order to mitigate data anomalies that might particularly affect one year of promoting power (such as a neighboring school closing), researchers also calculate a three-year promoting power average. The Alliance reports this average to give a clearer picture of promoting power in a school over time, and average out some of the enrollment changes that may occur from year to year.