High Schools in the United States: How does your local high school measure up?
Promoting power compares the number of 12th grade students in a school to the number of 9th 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 12th graders is 80 percent of the number of 9th graders three years before. If a school does not have a 9th grade, the indicator is calculated as the ratio of 12th to 10th 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--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.
Review the frequently asked questions about promoting power to learn more.
To determine the promoting power for high schools in a specific state or congressional district, use the search tools below.
NOTE: Conservative reporting: 3-yr average vs 1-yr. 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 3-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. When data for all three years was not available, the three-year average represents data for only one or two years. In some cases, the three-year average includes data that was suppressed for a particular year because the promoting power fell outside of the normal range of 15 to 115 percent.