You may have read reports that North Carolina’s graduation rate for African-American students was “the third best in the country at 72.3 percent.”

The statistic came from the 2011 Diplomas Count report, an annual report published by Education WeekEducation Week examined graduation rates from 1998 to 2008, so the 72.3 percent rate is a few years old.

The Diplomas Count graduate rate for African-Americans was a bit high compared to state statistics.  Four-year graduation rates for African-American high school students, as calculated by the NC Department of Public Instruction, were as follows:
2006: 60.4%
2007: 61.4%
2008: 62.7%
2009: 63.2%
2010: 66.9%
The difference between the state’s rate of 62.7 percent and the Diplomas Count rate of 72.3 percent is unusual, perhaps even suspect.  To add to the mystery, NC DPI boasts about the similarities between the methodologies used by the two reports.  According to their press release,
Rates reported in Diplomas Count are based on a Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) based on promotion rates throughout high school and students’ earning a diploma. North Carolina reports four-year and five-year graduation rates using a cohort graduation rate that actually follows each individual student from ninth grade entry throughout high school. The four-year cohort rate is very similar to the rate calculated by Diplomas Count researchers. North Carolina is one of only four states with a reported cohort rate that is not inflated above that calculated by the EPE researchers. (Emphasis added.)
I will pass along NC DPI’s response to these issues.