Does Georgia have a graduation “crisis”?

A new national report places Georgia’s high school graduation rate as one of the worst in the country and calls for federal action to fix what authors describe as a “crisis.”

The study, “Graduating America: Meeting the Challenge of Low Graduation-Rate High Schools,” was published by Jobs for the Future and the Everyone Graduates Center, a think tank at Johns Hopkins University.

This isn’t the first report to point out Georgia’s low graduation rates. Education Week publishes an annual report that routinely puts the state close to the bottom.

High schools with the lowest graduation rates tend to serve a larger percentage of minority students and children from low-income homes.

Georgia’s 2009 graduation rate was 77.8 percent, according to data from the Georgia Department of Education. The average for black students was 72.6 percent, while the rate for Hispanics was 69 percent. (These are corrected numbers. I had old data before.

But those figures may be too high. Georgia and other states use a formula that tends to undercount the number the dropouts. An improved formula is being developed.

Few people would disagree that Georgia needs to improve its graduation rate and its high schools. The issue is how.

What should be done at high schools and the elementary and middle schools to help more students graduate?

71 comments Add your comment

TW

July 23rd, 2009
8:50 am

There is no evidence of the GA legislators caring at all about this. From Saxby, through Sonny, all the way down to the lowly Chip Rogers up in Cherokee, the GOP ‘leadership’ of this state does nothing but badmouth public school in their efforts to cut taxes. At the crux of good education is teacher:student ratio. But it costs money to hire teachers, build schools.

GA doesn’t have leadership – we have ‘pandership.’

The people of a democracy get the government they deserve. GA deserves to have a high drop-out rate, because that is what they’ve voted for over the past decade.

FCM

July 23rd, 2009
8:51 am

Yet, Perdue wants furloughs and budget cuts in schools…..Surely there is somewhere other than education that the cuts could be made?

NO we do not need more Federal involement in schools. We have dumbed them down and made them socialist enough thank you.

sick and tired of whining teachers

July 23rd, 2009
8:53 am

What can be done you ask? How about a permanent furlough of teachers and hire a new batch. They got us in this mess we are in.

JBizzle

July 23rd, 2009
8:55 am

TW- I can’t tell you the name of one legislature I had while I was in school. Parents point the finger at politicians and have four pointed right back at themselves. Parents set the standard of education in the household not the state. Until that changes then good luck changing the graduation rate. It’s really quite simple.

Rick in Grayson

July 23rd, 2009
9:02 am

Take a look at the states that have been inundated with illegal aliens and their children. Those same states have very poor HS graduation rates. The rates are even poorer than reported due to the fact that many students are reported as moving to other schools/communities when they have actually dropped out of school.

The presence of non-English speaking students have had a negative effect on English speaking students and local taxpayers.

Enforce our immigration and labor laws!

Me

July 23rd, 2009
9:03 am

I agree jbizzle. However with Crawford Lewis and his cronies as Dekalb county leaders, it is only going to get worse I am afraid. Thank god I NEVER have to send my child to government schools again.

So it ain't so, Joe

July 23rd, 2009
9:08 am

JB, a parent must make sure that their child is learning even outside of the school Turn the TV off, and take the kids out and experience new environments. With that said, Sonny’s policy when the teachers voted for him was higher pay for higher quality. I believe the 400+ comments yesterday, mostly from teachers, refutes decisively whether Sonny cares about teachers. It seems Georgia fudges the numbers when it comes to voting rights and education. And even in doing that, we’re one of the worst states in the nation for graduating our kids. People used to say thank God for Mississippi and South Carolina, but we may soon find out that we’re worse than they are. You teachers voted for Sonny as retribution to Roy Barnes. Ya think any other republican candidate for governor will alter their policies to really address education? Or will they yell and scream about local control and charter schools as a way to cut taxes when the state is broke? You do the math teachers.

Tracher

July 23rd, 2009
9:12 am

This should not be pitted as teachers/schools vs parents. Without proper funding, schools will not succeed. Teachers don’t make very high salaries and must contend not only with students but parents and also administrators. It’s tough to manuever all while still trying to provide a quality education. Meanwhile, parents must be involved in their children’s education and this includes parents of all class levels. It is imperative to our economy that we produce educated members of society, but what have we got to offer young students at this point? For decades, companies have been sending jobs overseas to cut costs, rural areas are losing employers and cities are only increasing the need for minimum wage workers. Stop blaming this group vs that and realize how many factors come into play. This is important to individuals, families, cities and towns and ultimately the state. Budget cuts certainly don’t help and our GA legislature has not paid attention to the students (and their families or teachers) of GA for many years. Let’s find a way to truly support public education, on which I was raised and now have a Masters Degree. Don’t chastise it.

Barbara Woodling

July 23rd, 2009
9:16 am

Falling graduation rates are not an issue for more government, it’s a sociological problem, a parental concern. Instead of free education should we have required education, a law that punishes children who don’t fit the system?

momtoAlex&Max

July 23rd, 2009
9:17 am

You know, I am like the worst socialist ever (let the slamming begin). But even *I* have a problem with this.

Why do we need even MORE govt involvement??? The responsibilty for children graduating (or NOT) lies with the parents! This whole no child left behind is getting BEYOND ridiculous!

Not everyone is cut out for college. A lot are not even cut out for high school. The problem with high schools now is that there are no more vocational paths. WHY OH WHY must be educate ALL of them as if they are going to go to college? Most shouldn’t anyways! But lord knows we can use plumbers, electricians, mechanics, chefs, child care providers, etc. Those jobs aren’t going to India anytime soon. Why don’t we teach those kinds of things???

I am sorry, but I am DONE taking responsibility for other people’s kids graduating.

ScienceTeacher671

July 23rd, 2009
9:20 am

When we have children reading and doing math up to 4 years below grade level, and we tell them they are “proficient” and send them to high school anyway, why are we surprised when they “flunk out” or give up because they can’t read the textbooks or the graduation tests, and they can’t do algebra?

And when we have children reading and doing math more than 4 years below grade level, and we “committee promote” them and send them to high school as well, just what do we think is going to happen? They certainly won’t be able to earn a diploma.

P. Gray

July 23rd, 2009
9:25 am

Morale is at an all-time low amongst teachers. The governor needs to find other ways to create revenues for the state. I say let’s look into all of these multi-million dollar initiatives that the school systems keep buying. Teachers in Dekalb County learned that our “raise” was going to be used to fund some “America’s Choice” initiative, an initiative that cost millions of dollars, and no one from the county could actually articulate what it was. Once again, monies are squandered on vacuous programs that do little to aid in student academic performance or mitigate the high school dropout rate. The only persons that need to take a pay cut are the people who are grossly overpaid in the first place: the governor and his cabinet, the school superintendents and their cabinets, the ineffective principals who attend lavish week-long “instructional conferences” during state-mandated testing. It is no wonder that Georgia is ranked at the bottom in education. Someone needs to investigate the misappropriation of funding in many of these school systems; the results would be astounding!!!

TW

July 23rd, 2009
9:28 am

JBizzle – absolutely, the parent has the responsibility to see that their child shows up READY TO LEARN – good sleep, well fed, homwork finished, etc.

However, it is the local leadership that is responsible for getting the schools the resources they need. And when all they do is badmouth our schools so that they can cut taxes, the schools are pinched, as teacher:student ratio is compromised.

While there is no doubt that teacher quality is a dog in this fight, the vast majority are excellent. However, keeping the public’s eye on teacher quality when it ought be on class size and funding lets the local leadership off the hook.

The schools are society’s scapegoat. Our pitiful graduation rates are an indictment of the community and the pandership they choose to represent them.

Jeff

July 23rd, 2009
9:29 am

That “2000 pound elephant” in the living room is starting to make noise. Pretty soon you won’t be able to ignore it.

in yo face

July 23rd, 2009
9:36 am

Sick and Tired, really? You have no answer to this problem. The current teachers are doing the best they can with a bad situation. Everyone wants to put the blame on a single group, how about EVERYONE messed up? Yes, the economy is bad, so we have less money for education. Teachers fault? No. I believe it falls like this: Our legislators do not need to cut education spending any further, if they are asking our teachers to do more, cutting them down and furloughs are not the answer. Teachers do need to make a more active attempt in getting involved with students lives, its not that their skills are lacking, but we need more heart in this. And lastly, the students and parents are just as much a part of this as anyone else. Takes some damn personal responsibility people. Equal opportunity does not equate to equal outcome. Parents need to be more involved in their kids education and students need to own up to their responsibilities. Roughly 70% of the students are graduating, so it isn’t like it can’t be done for the other 30%.

Jeff is a 2000 lb elephant

July 23rd, 2009
9:36 am

Yes, Jeff is correct – make sure that your children aren’t in class with any students who have special needs, especially Aspberger’s Syndrome. Those sped kids will get all the time and attention, and your poor, normal kids will get left behind.

JCV

July 23rd, 2009
9:45 am

The last thing we need is more Federal/Government involvement in our lives. They have already made our teachers teach to the lowest level in the class, so as not to hurt anyone’s feeling. Well I’m tired of it; maybe the kids need to be toughened up. The real world doesn’t slow down so everyone is on the same level; if you strive and work hard, you will get further in live. Why should this be any different in our schools? It is not my child’s fault that Bobby or Jane doesn’t understand every thing. We had to study, get help after school or suffer the consequences when we were in school. Why is that so different now? As a parent of a new Kindergartener this year, I’m already concerned about how he is going to be “held back” in school.

ScienceTeacher671

July 23rd, 2009
9:48 am

sick and tired, you said “How about a permanent furlough of teachers and hire a new batch.”

Great idea! Where are you going to get that new batch, what will their qualifications be, and how much are you going to pay them?

Atl Resident

July 23rd, 2009
10:00 am

I’m with Barbara, this is definitely a parental concern. Why get the federal government to intervene on this issue? I don’t see the point. The only ways to improve grad rates and tests scores is for parents to intervene more with kids learning which is scarce because of too many one parent households. Teachers are already underpaid and now facing furloughs, but this issue starts at HOME. Most teachers are doing their job in classroom, but learning goes beyond that. Not all parents are the same, but overall parents need to get more tougher on kids and kids need to stop being lazy. Let’s not be naive about this ongoing issue but let’s keep it real!

no excuses

July 23rd, 2009
10:06 am

This will NEVER be corrected until more parents start getting off their lazy butts, take responsibility for their children, and get involved in their education!!! I honestly believe it’s that simple.

There’s also no better argument for keeping the federal government out of our local school systems than NCLB.

It's just going to get worse

July 23rd, 2009
10:09 am

Now that GA has a one size fits all diploma, things will get worse, not better. All students, beginning with the class of 2012, must earn a college prep diploma. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Dropout rates will surely increase. And then there’s the state’s brilliant idea to implement a math curriculum that even New York has already dumped. How many freshman in this state failed Math I this past year and are now behind in their quest to graduate? My guess would be A LOT!
What a mess.

Barticus Maximus

July 23rd, 2009
10:13 am

“In most, the high schools with the lowest graduation rates served mostly poor and minority students. African-Americans and Hispanics in Georgia and elsewhere, according to the report, are more likely than white students to attend schools with low graduation rates.” Taking the political correctness out of this sentence from the article, it should read AA’s and Hispanics are more likely to drop out than whites. It sounds like there needs to be a strategic communication message aimed at these groups. Even the 82% rate for whites is appalling. I cannot even imagine trying to survive in today’s environment without a high school education. Lets go parents, demand from your children goals and acheivements. “Life is tough, but tougher when you are stupid.”

Enter your comments here

conservative

July 23rd, 2009
10:38 am

Let’s look at all students in all states and compare like data in order to really know where everyone stands and then look at what is working and what is not working.
1. Graduation rate is only for those that graduate within 4 years. It doesn’t count those they complete school a semester or two later. This isn’t the same in all states.
2. Some places consider the GED a diploma and graduating and perhaps graduating on time. Georgia counts all of those students as dropouts.
3. Testing; The over abundance of standarized tests leads to teachers teaching the test and students wondering why in the world would I want to stay in this place for 4 years. Some good and smart students leave school because of over tests and under practical and human solutions to everyday life.
4. Some progress has been made lately with graduation coach’s. However, the new requirements for the class of 2012 and more and more tests may bring the numbers back down rather than up.

We need to compare like numbers to like numbers and help students achieve indivdually.

William Casey

July 23rd, 2009
10:48 am

As Ron White puts it so eloquently….”there is no cure for stupid.” We seem to have forgotten that, Forest Gump notwithstanding.

concerned parent

July 23rd, 2009
10:48 am

Yes, fire the teachers and get a new batch! I will tell you where to get a new batch: look in the mirror. Homeschooling is a wonderful option. Your kids will turn out so much better – morals and education.

Stop whining and start walking

July 23rd, 2009
12:04 pm

As much as I would love to see sick and tired of whining teachers walk the walk and go teach in a classroom, I cannot, in good faith, subject a group of students to the sight of sick and tired, balled up in a fetal position underneath the teacher’s desk, , sobbing uncontrollably, “Oh my God it really isn’t the teachers!” before passing out in a puddle of urine.

Terry Y

July 23rd, 2009
12:08 pm

Schools are only as good as the community that supports them. With the new school year beginning, instead of complaining, go to the PTA meetings. Find out how YOU can help your particular school. Ask teachers if there is anything YOU can donate including time to help the school. STOP expecting your tax dollars to do everything. IT doesn’t work that way anymore. Teachers, Administrators and School Boards need YOUR INPUT not your complaints. Go to a school board meeting to see what is going on or better than that. Get a visitor’s pass and just roam the halls or watch and observe then see how your particular talents could help that school. The state of GA gets what it puts into its educational system and it looks like more furloughs so citizens you step up to the plate. HELP OUT.

DeKalb Conservative

July 23rd, 2009
12:41 pm

Look at the bright side, the lack of performance makes getting a 4-year degree look much more valuable. Compare that to other parts of the country where they have good high school graduation rates, high numbers of citizens with 4-year degrees, which results in many people needing a Masters degree just to standout.

In a sick twisted way, the lack on concern by students to complete their education makes those students that complete 4-year degrees become more valuable than they would be in other parts of the country.

jim d

July 23rd, 2009
12:48 pm

FREE MARKET EDUCATION—There—another problem solved.

NEXT

jim d

July 23rd, 2009
12:51 pm

Laying odds that this blog don’t even come close to the # of comments yesterday cause it isnt about teachers money. LOL

Rosie

July 23rd, 2009
12:57 pm

Kids would not drop out if parents didn’t let them- this is as simple as it gets. Point the figure at the right people and stop blaming schools and teachers.

Jeff

July 23rd, 2009
1:17 pm

“Schools are only as good as the community that supports them.”

And check out the demographics of the failing schools. I promise you will not be surprised. Paging the 2000 pound elephant. The livingroom is waiting for you.

what would jim d do?

July 23rd, 2009
1:20 pm

“Laying odds that this blog don’t even come close to the # of comments yesterday cause it isnt about teachers money. LOL”

What do you expect? No one wants their paycheck messed with. God what a turd head you are!

Way Down South

July 23rd, 2009
1:41 pm

I’m not surprised that so many kids drop out when many of them have parents who did the same thing. They know they can get out and get a GED(that thing is so basic my cats could get one)and waltz into an area tech school and start working on cars or “doing hair”.
Its hard to get home support in that kind of environment.

Atl Resident

July 23rd, 2009
1:46 pm

concerned parent

July 23rd, 2009
10:48 am
Yes, fire the teachers and get a new batch! I will tell you where to get a new batch: look in the mirror. Homeschooling is a wonderful option. Your kids will turn out so much better – morals and education.

See this is a good example of what I mean by some parents got to intervene more with their kids, get tougher, and stop being so damn lazy. This has got to be the most ignorant comment that has been said on here.

Atl Resident

July 23rd, 2009
1:49 pm

concerned parent

July 23rd, 2009
10:48 am
Yes, fire the teachers and get a new batch! I will tell you where to get a new batch: look in the mirror. Homeschooling is a wonderful option. Your kids will turn out so much better – morals and education.

This is a good example of a parent who just don’t get it which is sad. Stop being lazy, blaming government for home issues and problems and intervene with their kids more at home. The main issue is the HOME.

jim d

July 23rd, 2009
2:00 pm

no one wants there kids f’d with either.

AHA!

July 23rd, 2009
2:24 pm

“no one wants there kids f’d with either.”

Is this why you are always knocking teachers? Did someone “tease” you pos brat? Its their btw. Learn how to spell.

AHA!

July 23rd, 2009
2:25 pm

Brittancus

July 23rd, 2009
2:34 pm

From the beginning its been previous administrations ultimate fault that illegal immigration has never been retired. Years of neglect and intentional overlooking of the laws that were in place? It’s grandiose excuse to allow the 20 million plus illegal immigrants to stay on American soil. Congress when enacted the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 has been flagrantly ignored. The IRCA toughened criminal sanctions for employers who hired illegal aliens, denied illegal aliens federally funded welfare benefits, and legitimized some aliens through an amnesty program–EXCEPT THESE LAWS NEVER WERE ENFORCED?

There has always been complicity since the earliest days, between the lawmakers, big business, the open border zealots and radical pro-immigration and anti-American sovereignty organizations. Just like the Globalist they have an attitude that American taxpayers should accommodate every illegal family, with free medical care, schooling and a comfortable prison cell, for criminals and for the thousands of illegal alien drunken drivers every year. That globalist agenda has always been a free movement of cheap labor, between all of South America, Canada and Mexico, just as secretly arranged with the 3 countries leaders in Waco, Texas, at the end of March 2005.

Americans only forceful action is to build on E-verify, but not to replace it? Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York and chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on immigration wants consider up-grading the application, with modifications to authenticate the employee’s identity by using a specific and unique biometric identifiers? Schumer, stated “improving employment verification is critical to boosting public confidence about curbing illegal immigration, which will build support for comprehensive immigration reform.” These politicians just don’t get it? Outside of the American Civil War, there will be a battle over giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship free-ride? What about the millions of people with integrity and believe in the Rule of Law, who sit and wait in far off foreign countries for an entry visa?

Whatever the outcome it will not be easy to pass any Immigration reform or AMNESTY? Say–NO– because it going to cost trillions of dollars (with a T) in enactment. Health care, Pensions, retirement and a rush on government benefits, for those who haven’t already cheated the system. Then they will want their immediate families here? And waiting millions will swarm the open areas of the sovereign border fence? IT WILL NEVER END? Call your Politician today at 202-224-3121 GOOGLE—NUMBERSUSA, AMERICANPATROL for facts, that will not be found in most press releases.

As a Independent voter, I do believe in a alternative government medical system, but I adamantly disagree on donating from public treasuries free health care to anybody who steals across our border or anything that smells of AMNESTY?

Copy, Paste & Distribute freely

Wow just Wow.

July 23rd, 2009
2:37 pm

FulCo teach

July 23rd, 2009
3:36 pm

Concerned parent, The problem with home school is that it really doesn’t differ that much from the problem with public school in the issue of parenting. If the parents are lazy (primary motivation is that they don’t want to get up in time to get their kids to non-home school), what do the students learn? If the parents are closed-minded, guess what other “ideas” their children will learn? Know some great home schoolers and some whose kids would seriously be better off elsewhere – just like parents of kids who are educated in “government schools.” Sorry, no panacea in home schooling…

FulCo teach

July 23rd, 2009
3:46 pm

Yes, agree totally that the idea that every student in Georgia should get a college prep diploma was ill-founded. Falling to the bottom in graduation rates, and a lack of jobs for those with college degrees, will hopefully help our General Assembly direct the GaDOE to rethink that and provide more career tech options. If many of the students who are dropping out had options in which they could acquire marketable skills (other than “fries with that?”) to be used to get a job after high school graduation – auto repair, cosmetology, business, etc. – maybe staying in would be more palatable. But to require them to take four sciences, four math, two foreign language, etc. for a CP degree when they won’t be going to college is ridiculous. Give them incentive to stay in school in the form of – gasp – an education in something they’ll use!

concerned in Gwinnett

July 23rd, 2009
4:00 pm

Georgia is again near the bottom for graduation rates and to top it off, the article pointed out that Georgia uses a formula that tends to under count the number of dropouts. A lot of counties have figured out how to hide the lower performers from AYP by sending them to alternative schools. On August 12 the Georgia Board of Education will vote on proposed amendments to allow local districts to exempt students enrolled in non-traditional or alternative schools and programs from the required daily average instructional time. I wonder what that will do to the graduation rates? Many of the charter schools serve children from low-income homes and minorities yet they outperform AND they do it with less money! Several have extended school days but not less. Hmmm… they must be doing something right.

OldTeach

July 23rd, 2009
4:43 pm

Scienceteacher671 , IMO, hit on a major reason for students dropping out. If I’m not mistaken, the greatest number of students leave school in or just after 9th grade. I am a long/long time teacher of MiddleSchool and I can say, without fear of meaningful contradiction, that many, if not most of our future drop outs arrive at middle school reading WAY below grade level and with few math skills. So what do middle schools do? THe students may make some progress before leaving, but some do not. Can we retain them? NO….POLITICALLY INCORRECT! County officials have a HISSY FIT when a teacher says RETAIN. AND, all a parent has to do is sign a form saying he wants his child promoted.
SO, they go on to 9th grade….they do not pass 9th grade classes [although I hear the pressure is on high school teachers now to have EVERYONE pass ]. So, they drop out. WHo is responsible.??? Who is responsible for allowing a child who reads on a 4th grade level to move on to high school. WHO??????

Any school looks good when you've got a good student

July 23rd, 2009
4:54 pm

Our daughter did A+OK in school, but our son was another story. Schools are remarkably unfriendly to boys (if only they’d be GIRLS). He had a witch in 3rd grade, a woman in her last year before retirement, and she shouldn’t have been let anywhere NEAR children. Thank you–NOT–Nancy, and I hope that you read this.

Old School

July 23rd, 2009
4:55 pm

You want more students to graduate? Bring back the D (69-60). They’ll be “below average” but passing and will go on and graduate. Right now 70 is passing and 69 failing. There, I made it all better.

Except that too many will still read way below grade level, will not think critically, will not be able to do basic math, will not speak or write in complete, correct sentences, and none of us will be better off than before. BUT! More will graduate and everybody will be happy. Right.

Blogging won’t fix our problems just as pointing fingers and sniping at each other. Perhaps allowing school systems to seek their own solutions instead of jumping through government mandated hoops would help. Then we can start communicating with our parents, teachers, students, communities, and other concerned parties in language we can all understand and work together to create vibrant learning environments customized especially for us by us.

We can’t fix the State of Georgia’s educational system but I can and do work to fix the problems in my own school. We can eat that elephant. . . one bite at a time.

Ray

July 23rd, 2009
5:00 pm

Home school? Two streets over from me, this lady ‘home-schools’ her kids. She’s been doing it for years and the kids are now around 15 and 17. All they do is hang in the basement smoking pot all day long. She got a hold of some kind of money the Bush Administration made available for ‘home school’ and she blew it on a big screen and a bunch of video games.

Just because you were picked on for being a dork when you were in school does not mean you should deprive your kids of getting the education they need.

Nancy

July 23rd, 2009
5:09 pm

“Our daughter did A+OK in school, but our son was another story. Schools are remarkably unfriendly to boys (if only they’d be GIRLS). He had a witch in 3rd grade, a woman in her last year before retirement, and she shouldn’t have been let anywhere NEAR children. Thank you–NOT–Nancy, and I hope that you read this.”

The reason your son was having problems in my class was because he kept playing with himself and treying to get the othe boys to join in. And I hope you read this.

Tony

July 23rd, 2009
5:30 pm

Like it or not, the issue of graduation rates is more of a reflection of our state citizens’ value of education. Schools are not able to change these values nor should they be held solely responsible. Communities with strong values for education have high graduation rates. Communities with strong values for education have quality schools.