As we expected, state says grad rate rose to 80.8 percent. Do you buy it?

As we predicted based on the governor’s plan to fan out across the state today to announce the news, the state’s high school graduation rate is an an all-time high, according to the state Department of Education.

I will add the usual caution that Georgia’s method of counting dropouts — the leaver rate — is flawed and misses kids. Because it tends to undercount dropouts or rely on sketchy dropout data, the leaver rate  produces an inflated rate of success.

A new national model that follows kids through high school — the more accurate “cohort rate”  — is expected to correct those omissions. When Georgia moves to the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, we expect to see a lower graduation rate. The methodology takes the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, and divides it by the number of students who entered high school four years earlier, adjusting for transfers in and out, emigres and deceased students. No longer can schools rely on a one year snapshot of their graduates to report their grad rates.

Before a student can be eliminated from a school’s roll, the school must provide written confirmation that the student has enrolled in another school or in an educational program that culminates in a regular high school diploma. In the absence of such accountability, local schools can continue to disguise their failures by claiming that students who have left school have simply moved.

However, the evidence is that we are still graduating more students, even if we are not yet graduating eight out of 10 of the students who start high school in the state. So, I think Georgia can stand proud today.

With that background, here is the state release:

The state of Georgia’s graduation rate rose to an all-time high of 80.8 percent in 2010 – an increase of two percentage points over last year, and more than 17 percentage points since 2003, when the graduation rate was 63.3 percent. Gov. Sonny Perdue and state School Superintendent Brad Bryant announced the results today while recognizing three schools throughout the state that saw their own graduation rates increase dramatically in recent years.

“There is nothing greater we can do for a young Georgian than encourage them to stay in school,” Gov. Perdue said. “We did something no other state had even thought of – put a graduation coach in every middle and high school and focused their efforts on students at risk of dropping out. Even with our dramatic enrollment growth, 4,000 fewer students dropped out this year than in 2003.”

Governor Perdue set a goal of reaching the 80 percent rate by the time he left office. In 2003, 65,213 students received a high school diploma in Georgia.  Last school year, 91,561 students graduated with a high school diploma, meaning 26,348 more students graduated with a full diploma this year than in 2003.

“Georgia’s children are our state’s most valuable resource and today’s announcement is a great testament to the efforts of parents and teachers who work tirelessly to ensure our students succeed,” said Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. “Together we can continue to provide the tools and flexibility they need to ensure every Georgia student has the opportunity to achieve and gain the skills they need to compete in the 21st Century global economy.”

“Improving the graduation rate is the top education priority in the state of Georgia,” said Superintendent Bryant. “Our high school principals, teachers and students should take a lot of pride in the fact that more students than ever are graduating in Georgia. This is a testament to a lot of collaboration and hard work by our teachers and students.”

Graduation Rate Rises for All Students

All groups of students saw significant increases in their graduation rate in 2010. Georgia’s African-American students had a graduation rate of 75.8 percent, up more than 23 percentage points from 2003. The state’s Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 77.6 percent, up more than 29 percentage points from 2003. And Georgia’s economically-disadvantaged students raised their graduation rate to 76 percentage in 2010, up more than 24 percentage points from 2003.

“The improvement in our graduation rate is happening across the board for all students in every subgroup,” Superintendent Bryant added. “We are making steady progress and giving more students than ever the tools they need to be successful after high school.”

Governor Perdue and Superintendent Bryant presented the three schools with $3,000 grants towards graduation improvement programs, a plaque and t-shirts for the seniors and faculty members, all made possible by AT&T.  The three schools were selected for their improved graduation rates and academics, including progress on End of Course Tests and postsecondary enrollment.

The progress in graduation rates at each high school visited today is below:

- North Hall High School – 74 percent in 2003 to over 94 percent this year.

- Eagle’s Landing High School – 74 percent in 2003 to over 90 percent this year

- Glynn Academy – 56 percent in 2004 to over 80 percent this year

88 comments Add your comment

ACC_12 Booster

October 26th, 2010
11:16 am

What?….You don’t like good news? A sharp INCREASE in the graduation rates is most certainty better than a sharp DECREASE. If this is true and the numbers haven’t been skewed to reflect what they really don’t (government manipulate numbers to their benefit? No way!), then congrats are in order to the State of Georgia, but given a knack by government entities to fudge the numbers to make themselves look good, I can why you might be a little skeptical, Maureen.


October 26th, 2010
11:18 am

The numbers are bogus, BS and I dont care.


October 26th, 2010
11:20 am

All lies, nothing but lies. I suggest Perdue get his investigators (who are looking into the APS cheating scandal) to look into this. I smell a bunch of RATS.


October 26th, 2010
11:20 am

I do NOT believe this!! After 12 years of being involved in many things that inform me of corruption in schools, there is NO WAY this could happen, especially since there’s a big tadoo about corruption of test scores, etc. I don’t see why they would be honest about this, either.

Maureen Downey

October 26th, 2010
11:21 am

@ACC, I think the rates have risen, but I suspect that when we move to the cohort method of tracking high school graduation, Georgia will fall a bit. When I have talked to DOE about this, the position is that while the rate may not be as high as they say, it still is improving. I think that much is true.

DeKalb Educated

October 26th, 2010
11:22 am

Yea! Always a good number to see rise. Now, if we can employment figure rise as well.


October 26th, 2010
11:25 am

Not one iota. It does help explain why proof of Graduation Rate manipulation on Hall has been totally ignored by the Governor’s Office school accountabilty people though.

Cheaters DO win! At least in good ol GA.

V for Vendetta

October 26th, 2010
11:29 am

I agree with what the other posters have said: this is BS at best. Even if that number is legit, it reflects nothing more than a dumbing down of our standards. It is not evidence of any kind of achievement.


October 26th, 2010
11:30 am

Mike you are so right. I expect a scandal investigation to break out on this in a couple of years.

former APS teacher

October 26th, 2010
11:33 am

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you lower standards. . .

Simple Jack

October 26th, 2010
11:41 am

No! I would love to see the criteria used to determine those numbers. Kids are dropping out or failing out of school daily. No way the numbers have improved. Just more political BS being used to make us feel that all is well. REMEMBER, TAKE OUT THE TRASH ON NOVEMBER 2ND!


October 26th, 2010
11:45 am

I don’t believe anything that comes out of Perdue’s mouth. I would like to see some objective data on this; but I would suspect that while graduation rates have probably risen, this may be an exaggeration.


October 26th, 2010
11:48 am

I have serious doubts as to the veracity of these numbers.

Jim Tavegia

October 26th, 2010
11:49 am

This is a surprising number considering what I see in school these days. The question is what are they counting as an actual “diploma”? I’ve heard that 30% of freshman college students are taking remedial Math and English classes their freshman year, so how can that be?

A Teacher

October 26th, 2010
11:55 am

Students are given all kinds of chances to graduate. If you fail a class you can go to night school or do some kind of computer class to gain credit. With all of this, there is no reason why graduation rates should not rise.


October 26th, 2010
11:56 am

You folks are incredible. I would hate to go through life as a negative, doubting Thomas.



October 26th, 2010
12:02 pm

There is no method of tracking students throughout their education, so any number they come up with is going to be inaccurate. Perhaps a higher percentage of high school seniors who complete the year at the same school are graduating, but many schools elect to “transfer” would-be drop-outs to alternative schools, where they promptly drop out, thus enabling them to count the students as transfers rather than drop-outs. Alternative schools are often come-as-you-will and don’t track drop-outs at all. So … no, I don’t believe it. I wish it were true – and maybe it is, but their methods of data collection are crap, so any conclusions they make are crap, too.


October 26th, 2010
12:02 pm

Sure. Kids may be “graduating” because no child left behind means every child gets promoted regardless of whether they can actually read or learned any darn thing. Teachers are just learning how to game the system by cheating on tests or otherwise. Blame them if you want to but, their careers depend on doing the impossible with kids whose parents don’t send them to school prepared to learn. What do you expect in a hyper-metrics driven environment.


October 26th, 2010
12:03 pm

@Vince – we’re just smart enough to question anything coming out of the mouths of our elected officials. A much better alternative than those who simply walk around with their heads up their…


October 26th, 2010
12:06 pm

The rates may be lower than stated, but higher than in earlier years. Some of the credit should go to the poor economy. There are few jobs for people with HS diplomas, and fewer for those without.


October 26th, 2010
12:08 pm

It does sound eerily similar to what we heard from Beverly Hall and APS–a surge in the graduation rate–which, oh by the way, coincides with (1) a new mandate tying the graduation rate to funding formulas and (2)a surge in “transfers” which conveniently lowers the dropout rate and inflates the graduation rate.
I hope things are better, but an administration that cared about ccountability would celebrate cautiously and would be transparent about the limitations of their methodology. People could rally around an administration like that.


October 26th, 2010
12:10 pm

I agree with Vince.

paulding resident

October 26th, 2010
12:12 pm


Proud Black Man

October 26th, 2010
12:16 pm

Such vitriol!

Rick in Grayson

October 26th, 2010
12:17 pm

Why allow students to retake tests? Do they get a chance to redo their assignments at their jobs?

Actually Positive

October 26th, 2010
12:19 pm

The problem with the calculations is that is being used as a political tool. Can Purdue point to anything specific that he did to increase the graduation rate? It’s great to graduate more kids as long as they actually learn something when they graduate.

Paulding resident too

October 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

My child graduated and went to college. Yes, she was able to re-take tests and use the highest scores. She was also in AP classes, although I don’t think she was ready for them. She’s now having a difficult time in college because she’s not ready for the curriculum. Sure, she graduated. But, she wasn’t prepared. And, yes, that’s partly my fault as well.

Actually Positive

October 26th, 2010
12:28 pm

Right, No child left behinds prohibits schools from keeping kids back. Ask your local teachers! They have to promote the kid whether he knows the material or not.


October 26th, 2010
12:34 pm

The DOE under Cox and Perdue manipulated the pass rate on the state tests as well as the actual content of state tests to make them easier to pass in order to manufacture artificial success. In order to see the real progress, or lack thereof, look at the state SAT scores compared to the rest of the nation. Why doesn’t the state post student performance on the ITBS any more? The truth is that judged on any external measure, education in Georgia is the same or worse than it was when Perdue took office.


October 26th, 2010
12:40 pm

Students who pass the Graduation Test will not be held back for grades, absences, or discipline. Schools would be shooting themselves in the foot, if they did. NCLB has to go!

They Graduate But..

October 26th, 2010
12:40 pm

Oh they graduate, but the Top students are in remediation classes in College and want extensions on papers and projects and believe they can retake tests…

Love conquers all

October 26th, 2010
12:43 pm

More smoke blown up the @$$……

Terri Jones

October 26th, 2010
12:44 pm

I can see how the graduation rate is up – (1) standards are down (2) high school graduation test is on a 5th grade level (3) everybody graduates – regardless if you can read or write. It is a tragedy how education has spiraled down to “car washing students’ – pass through and get yourself a diploma. Ask the technical colleges admission offices – they are the ones having to deal with students who graduated with honors and read on a 5th grade level. At one high school – there were 86 graduates and 36 were “honor” graduates. You do the math!!!!


October 26th, 2010
12:46 pm

Learn the lesson from the so-called Texas Miracle:
It was called the “Texas Miracle,” a phrase you may remember because President Bush wanted everyone to know about it during his 2000 presidential campaign.

It was an approach to education that was showing amazing results, particularly in Houston, where dropout rates plunged and test scores soared.

Houston School Superintendent Rod Paige was given credit for the schools’ success, by making principals and administrators accountable for how well their students did.

Once he was elected president, Mr. Bush named Paige as secretary of education. And Houston became the model for the president’s “No Child Left Behind” education reform act.

Now, as Correspondent Dan Rather reported last winter, it turns out that some of those miraculous claims which Houston made were wrong.


October 26th, 2010
12:51 pm

Upeeple be so dum I gradiueted from Alanta Skools an passed my Crct reel high on reeding langweg arts to i be reel proud to reprecent ATL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

East Cobb Parent

October 26th, 2010
12:51 pm

@ Rick in Grayson – Maureen did a blog on the retesting that is status quo for GA, Re-testing: Does it penalize the kids who get it right the first time? Is school about learning well or testing well?

Free Market Champion

October 26th, 2010
1:05 pm

“There are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

- Benjamin Disraeli (British Statesman)

I would add to that Government Statistics – the greatest lies of all.

Capt. Call Out

October 26th, 2010
1:12 pm

@Free Market Chapmion –

It’s tough to hear your complaints with your mouth being so busy fellating the effigy of John Galt you have in your office.


October 26th, 2010
1:13 pm

This is the type of misleading information the “over paid” people at the DOE, the superintendents, their assistants, and the principals do so they can convince the politicians that they are doing a “wonderful” job and deserve their inflated salaries!!!


October 26th, 2010
1:20 pm

Poor Democrats, can’t stand to see a Republican accomplish something that they make a priority but could not accomplish.


October 26th, 2010
1:22 pm

The reported number of graduates in 2010 was 91,561. Yet the reported enrollment for 9th graders in the fall of the 2006-2007 school year was 145,883 – or a graduation rate of 63 percent. Is this the new Georgia math?


October 26th, 2010
1:27 pm

Check the home school rate for students being withdrawn to home school when their grades, credits, and attendance are so poor it would prevent them from graduating or keeping their license. There are more 16 and 17 year olds moving from public school to home school to prevent damage to a schools graduation rates that it’s become a joke.

Actually Positive

October 26th, 2010
1:31 pm

Bill, this is not about politics. This is about the kids!

Education Insider

October 26th, 2010
1:32 pm

I wonder which group the 16,000 kids that APS “looses” between their freshman and senior year, fall into…graduates…drop-outs…invisibles. Do we believe that APS is the only district who does this? And is that with a standard high school diploma? You can graduate and not get a standard high school diploma in Georgia.
You know what they say. Lie to me once shame on you, lie to me twice, shame on me. We all have a role to play in the epidemic called high school dropouts, as 1.3 million kids leaving school without a high school diploma certainly qualifies it as an epidemic.

HS Public Teacher

October 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

Is this a typical government way to improve stats? Wasn’t this done to unemployment rates a while ago?

Simply don’t count the kids that drop out and (bingo!) graduation rates surge.

Simply don’t count the unemployed that stopped looking for work and (bingo!) the unemployment rates improve.

I wonder if I can apply this to my personal life…. Simply don’t pay the bills coming to me and (bingo!) my net income increases! Hey! It works! I like this stuff!!!


October 26th, 2010
1:46 pm

Though I am not sure I believe the statistics, it is easier these days to track students. I imagine they are improving. This is good.


October 26th, 2010
1:49 pm

Lies. Lies. Lies. Lies.


October 26th, 2010
1:51 pm

Lord knows we don’t want to admit that anything good is happening in education. It MUST be a total fabrication.


October 26th, 2010
2:07 pm

Total bunk! Perdue has no positive education legacy…just the negatives of cuts to education, teacher furloughs, etc. He is trying to claim some things at the last minute…Race to the Top and increased graduation rates on his watch to give the appearance of a legacy. This guy is the worst Governor, ever. What he has done to public education is inexcusable. In fact, Perdue seems determined to show how tough he is with this investigation into cheating on CRCT tests. Seems to me, Perdue is “cheating” with his claims regarding graduation rates. Good news though, this Governor and all his cronies are history in about two months.


October 26th, 2010
2:11 pm

Maureen – has GA used the same methodology (leaver rate) over the last 8 years or so.