Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New study shows Hernando County's graduation rate just over 50 percent in 2006. State figures say the rate is more like 74 percent

BROOKSVILLE — If all of Hernando County's ninth-grade students were assembled, they could look to their left and then to their right and bet that one of those peers wouldn't graduate with a traditional high school diploma, according to a study released this week.

That review shows that in 2006, only half of Hernando County's students earned their diplomas the old-fashioned way: in school, in four years.

In Hernando, 50.5 percent of students earned a standard high school diploma that year, down 4.5 points from 2005, according to Diplomas Count, a study by Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. Florida's graduation rate fell from 60.5 percent in 2005 to 57.5 percent in 2006, the study showed.

Those figures, however, are markedly different from Florida Department of Education numbers, which put Hernando's graduation rate in 2006 at 74 percent and the state's rate at 71 percent.

Hernando's rate climbed to 78 percent last year, according to the state Education Department, prompting school district officials to celebrate.

The main reason for the difference between the state's numbers and the Education Week study is the definition of "graduation," said Jim Knight, Hernando's executive director of student services.

Florida defines a high school graduate as any student who earns a standard or special diploma or successfully passes a General Educational Development, or GED, exam within four years of entering ninth grade for the first time.

Diplomas Count uses guidelines in the No Child Left Behind law, which only measure students receiving standard high school diplomas.

"They're not taking everything into consideration," Knight said of the study.

The study is a still a good yardstick for how many students graduate in four years with a traditional diploma, said Christopher Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.

Debate over method

But some experts say it shouldn't be trusted to even do that.

In a news release, the independent, nonprofit Economic Policy Institute asserts that the study's methodology is flawed and produces "exceedingly inaccurate results" that could underestimate graduation rates by 9 percent and by as much as 14 percent for minorities.

Among the major flaws, according to EPI, the study does not account for grade retention or for students who transfer out of a district.

Swanson acknowledges that the study, like all research, has flaws but dismisses the notion that his center's study is not a good snapshot of graduation rates.

He notes that some districts that have had substantial growth over several years might have lower results, but not more than a few percentage points.

"The bottom line is we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," Swanson said. "At the end of day the real point is … whether the rate is where it needs to be and if it's not, where can we learn from this research."

He points out that his study applies a consistent methodology for the 11,000 school districts in the country, which averaged a 69 percent graduation rate in 2006 — 19 points higher than what the study showed for Hernando.

Progress in district

Knight said the district's progress in recent years is undeniable and can be credited to several strategies. The district allows students to take seven credits a year and earn one credit during summer school to catch up, Knight said. Students who come into high school deficient in reading and math can take remedial courses. "High schools are looking at data and analyzing curriculum to see what they can do better," Knight said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at or (352) 848-1431.

New study shows Hernando County's graduation rate just over 50 percent in 2006. State figures say the rate is more like 74 percent 06/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 5:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Jaguars: Five things to watch Thursday in Jacksonville


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs have their second preseason game here Friday against the Jaguars, and here are five things to keep an eye on as Tampa Bay moves closer to paring its roster from 90 players to 53 by Sept. 3.


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Former Rep. Corrine Brown denied new trial; to be sentenced in November


    JACKSONVILLE (AP)—A federal judge has denied a request for a new trial by former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, who was found guilty of taking money from a sham charity that was purported to be aiding poor students.

    Corrine Brown
  3. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  4. Taco and Beer Fiesta set for St. Pete, followed by the Ooze and Booze Fest

    Food & Dining

    The Gulf to Bay Food Truck association recently announced a trio of events for mobile comfort food lovers.

    The big a-- nachos are tortilla chips topped with pulled pork, chili, cheese sauce, salsa, chopped jalenpenos, feta cheese and cilantro sour cream from Maggie on the Move. [Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association]
  5. After monument vote, Confederate activist named to Hillsborough County diversity council


    TAMPA — Moments after Hillsborough County commissioners made uncertain a previous decision to move Tampa's Confederate monument, they voted to put the area's most vocal advocate of Confederate causes on a citizen committee to promote diversity. 

    David McCallister won a spot on Hillsborough County's Diversity Advisory Council on Wednesday.