North Carolina looks at data on students who leave school in two ways, a Cohort Graduation Rate and an Annual Dropout Rate.
Since the fall of 2002, local school districts have been accounting for each ninth grader as he or she moves through high school. This record-keeping provides the state with an accurate count of how many students graduate with a diploma in four years. Because some students may need a fifth year in order to earn their high school diploma, a five-year cohort graduation rate also is recorded.
North Carolina was one of the first states to comply with the National Governors Association Compact, a plan begun in 2005 by the nation’s governors to implement a common formula to calculate each state’s graduation rate.