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