School districts electronically submit graduation and attendance data through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Core Data Collection System. The graduation and dropout data is monitored and reviewed by DESE Core Data staff.
The goal for the graduation rate indicator is to improve each year until the rate of 85 percent is reached. Once 85 percent is reached, the goal is to at least maintain that level each year.
Missouri uses the definition of graduation rate from the National Center for Education Statistics:
"Graduation rate" is the quotient of the number of graduates in the current year as of June thirtieth divided by the sum of the number of graduates in the current year as of June thirtieth plus the number of twelfth-graders who dropped out in the current year plus the number of eleventh-graders who dropped out in the preceding year plus the number of tenth-graders who dropped out in the second preceding year plus the number of ninth-graders who dropped out in the third preceding year. Students who obtain a High School Equivalency (HSE) are counted as dropouts in this calculation.
DESE staff contacts districts to verify data which represent a substantial change from the preceeding year. These audits are conducted by the school finance office for attendance, since those data affects funding.