Only one local high school and only one area school district scored above the statewide average when the 2012 graduation rates were released last week by the Georgia Department of Education.
The statewide average of 69.72 percent was two points higher than the 67.4 percent rate of 2011. This is the second year each Georgia school’s graduation rate was calculated with a new formula, known as the adjusted cohort rate, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman. The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. In contrast, Georgia’s former graduation rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate from high school.
Riverwood High in Sandy Springs led all local high schools with a rate of 70.69, and Fulton County Schools was the second-leading district with a rate of 71.34 percent. Sandy Springs’ other public high school, North Springs, was second in the area with a graduation rate of 67.28 percent.
In a news release, Fulton County Schools touted its 1 percent increase in its graduation rate from 70.1 percent in 2011.
“It’s great that 71 percent of our students are successfully finishing high school, but that also means more than a quarter of our students are being left behind. That’s not acceptable,” Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa said in a statement. “One of our strategic focuses is to increase graduation rates to 90 percent by 2017. We still have a ways to go, but it’s achievable. I have no doubt that our schools and our students can do this. The support of our parents and community is critical in helping us reach this goal.”
Smyrna’s Campbell High, which serves students in Vinings, was next at 62.11 percent, and its district, Cobb County Schools, led all local school systems at 76 percent.
In a news release, the Cobb district praised the 2.6 percent increase in its graduation rate from 73.4 percent in 2011.
"Cobb's 2012 graduation rate is very strong in comparison to other metro Atlanta school districts,” Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a statement. “That's a positive reflection on our school staffs – the teachers, counselors and social workers – who are committed to working with our at-risk students every single day. We also have a community that values quality education, and that emphasis is carried down to the students."
Buckhead’s only public high school, North Atlanta, had the lowest rate, at 60.59 percent, and its district, Atlanta Public Schools, had the lowest rate among local districts at 50.87 percent.
In a news release, the Georgia Department of Education said based on the estimated cohort graduation rate of 58.6 percent in 2009, the number of students getting diplomas has risen by 11 percentage points in that time. The cohort rate was applied to 2009’s graduating class to help create a trend line, even though the state used a different calculation then.
“I am very pleased that our graduation rate continues to increase, no matter how it is calculated,” State School Superintendent John Barge said in a statement. "While our graduation rate is still far too low and we have much progress to be made, we are moving in the right direction. In order to encourage more students to stay in school, we must make high school more relevant. Through our Career Pathways initiative, I am excited that students will see a clearer connection between what they learn in the classroom and how it applies to what they want to do after graduation.”