New calculation method lowers Georgia’s high school grad rate to 67.4. Anyone surprised?

No surprise here.

Under the new, more accurate method of measuring, Georgia’s high school graduation rate dropped 12.6 points to 67.4 percent. No one believed it was ever the 80-plus rate that the state had been reporting for the last few years. In fact, official announcements of the rate would often be accompanied by disclaimers that regardless of what the rate was or wasn’t, the important issue was whether it was increasing over time.

Here is the AJC’s new searchable database of the rates.

At a media conference last year, several lawmakers including Senate Ed chairman Fran Millar of DeKalb expressed certainty that the rate would fall under the new criteria.

You can read the state’s release on the new grad rate here, which also contains links to district and school-level data at the bottom.

You can read how the new rate was calculated in this DOE primer, which is quite thorough.

According to the AJC story on the new rate, which DOE announced this morning:

But it’s also less than the tumble that some predicted would follow a new federal requirement that eliminates a hodge-podge of state formulas in favor of a single — and what most agree is a more accurate — method of calculating graduation rates.

In some states, the new method is yielding rates that are 20 percentage points lower than states previously reported. In February 2010, state School Superintendent John Barge warned that Georgia’s graduation rate could fall to 64 percent.

Barge announced the new graduation rate Tuesday with little fanfare.

“The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school who are college and career ready,” Barge said in a prepared statement issued at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“I believe that in order to tackle a problem you have to have honest and accurate data,” he said. “We will be able to use this new data as a baseline to see how our important initiatives are impacting graduation rates in the future.”

The superintendent went on to say that, regardless of the method of calculation, Georgia’s graduation rates have increased significantly over the last several years. “But there is still much work to do,” he added.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

165 comments Add your comment

LMAO

April 10th, 2012
9:29 am

Did I miss something? How difficult is it to state how many students are graduating. 500 students 450 pass the test to graduate that’s 90%. How hard is that?

Dekalb taxpayer

April 10th, 2012
9:32 am

Unfortunately, graduating in Georgia does not mean that you are necessarilly “college or career ready.”

Don't Tread

April 10th, 2012
9:34 am

No, nothing surprising there.

Now if they could use a “more accurate, uniform look” at the unemployment numbers, trade deficits, national debt, etc. instead of the government pulling some number out of the air for the Party’s political benefit.

Dekalb taxpayer

April 10th, 2012
9:35 am

Oops. Make that “necessarily.” I graduated from high school in Alabama, which clearly isn’t much better.

KMHSmom

April 10th, 2012
9:37 am

Enter your comments here

Rick in Grayson

April 10th, 2012
9:37 am

KMHSmom

April 10th, 2012
9:38 am

Who can explain how the new formula calculates the rate. I realize it starts with 9th graders and somehow determines the difference between kids that move to another district vs. kids that drop out.

Beverly Fraud

April 10th, 2012
9:38 am

Yes it’s dismal statewide, but let’s not forget successes like APS. Don’t have the stats right in front of me, but no doubt, with a decade plus of “researched based best practices” applied RIGOROUSLY the graduation rates in APS not only surpass the state average, but most likely are on par with Woodward, Marist and the other prestigious private schools in the area.

pw

April 10th, 2012
9:43 am

Almost 40% of Georgia’s students are not graduating from high school and no matter how you try to spin it, that is horrendus but I suppose as long as the children and grandchildren of those in power in Georgia are doing fine who gives a dxxx about the rest of the state.

oldtimer

April 10th, 2012
9:48 am

I was actually surprised it was not lower.

LMAO

April 10th, 2012
9:51 am

@pw you’ve got a point. As long as there are private schools public schools will get the short end of the stick.

Jane W.

April 10th, 2012
9:54 am

Especially in inner-city schools, it’s apparent we need an alternative to the “college prep” approach we use in formulating K-12 education.

Relatively few young people are college material. And for the rest, their interests would better be served through a blend of academic and vocational courses. And yet, we as a society can’t bring ourselves to admit this and commit to the needed changes.

I’ve spoken before of the advantages of a tuition voucher system in K-12, and how it would transfer important education decisions to parents. Here’s another example of how we could re-direct education—and achieve the above balance—through the individual choices of parents and students FINALLY FREE TO CHOOSE schools which deliver the education/training they seek.

Struthers

April 10th, 2012
9:55 am

I am surprised it isn’t lower. Given that there are still people in this state who will vote for Obama, you might think it should be 30%.

MiltonMan

April 10th, 2012
9:59 am

Milton HS – 96%. The token democrats in the area make up the 4% that do not graduate.

MiltonMan

April 10th, 2012
10:02 am

Struthers: Look at the areas that are “strong Pro Obama” – APS, DeKalb, Clayton, etc. All crappy schools. The dems in this state need the uneducated for a secured voting bloc.

Once Again

April 10th, 2012
10:04 am

Do the numbers really matter if these kids are all ignorant anyway? Whether they graduate or not, the government indoctrination system has done the job it was intended to do – dumb down the children, destroy their spirit of innovation, destroy their individuality, regiment their lives, and get them to love and believe in the government. Mission accomplished. Education was never part of the plan except a menial amount required to be good worker bees.

John Taylor Gatto, former NY State Teacher of the Year once spoke about a story he heard regarding training fleas. He said that if you put fleas in a jar they will be inclined to jump around and out and basically go their own way and do their “flea thing.” In order to train them you must put a low lid on the jar. The fleas will continue to jump but will bang their head on the lid over and over. In the course of a few hours the fleas will have stopped jumping and you can even leave the lid off and they will not jump or do their “flea thing” anymore. At this point you can see what each flea is inclined to do and train them in that direction. When he first heard this story, he realized that as a teacher what he had been hired to do was BE THE LID. If you truly understand REAL education you understand this concept implicitly. If you actually believe the lie that government education (and even far too much private education) is actually about real education and learning, then this story just sounds like a lesson in how to train fleas.

Check out John Taylor Gatto on YouTube. His stuff is priceless and something every parent and educator should see.

Pluto

April 10th, 2012
10:05 am

Dang it! I really don’t know how I am going to dumb down anymore to get these kids from being left behind. Obviously tweaking our present model is not the answer. I think it is time for some bold initiatives to address the whole system and I am not talking about recycling past efforts. We have got to get out of the box we are in if meaningful learning is to take place.

Just A Grunt

April 10th, 2012
10:09 am

I am still a little unclear on the methodology used in calculating this new graduation rate, and there are references to taking into account the transfer rate but somehow it still seems to leave out a significant group. Military dependents. It seems states with large military presences will have lower graduation rates just based on the nature of military life with frequent transfers. As I stated though I could not glean enough information from the methodology used to make a conclusion. It would also seem to punish states who have active programs addressing the illegal immigrant problem also. I just am not sure this method of tracking from ninth grade on is really a good method.

Mary Elizabeth

April 10th, 2012
10:09 am

Until Georgia’s Department of Education and Georgia’s County School Districts realize that students MUST be taught on their individual instructional levels, whatever their grade levels happen to be, students will continue to drop out of school because educators will, as a system, be creating failure for them, through mandating too rigid an approach to instruction.

My remarks yesterday on Atlanta Forward follow, and thereafter a link is given to “Robert’s Story,” the story of a student who nearly dropped out of school, but who did not.
——————————————————–

From “Atlanta Foward,” 4/9/2012:

“Words, from the link above, from UGA education professor, Stephanie Jones:

‘But individualization, inspiration and engagement aren’t in current policies, and neither is teachers’ professional knowledge. Instead, teachers must follow pacing guides and move on with assignments regardless of whether students are beyond or behind.’

‘Punitive policies forcing the impossible combination of rigidity and test-based accountability are produced out of fear, anger, distrust and arrogance. They are written in an irrational effort to control the people in schools.’

‘It’s time to stand in solidarity against mandated dehumanization in one-size-fits-all schooling and against overemotional policymakers who have a reckless stranglehold on schools.’

==============================================

I stand in solidarity with your remarks, Professor Jones. You are absolutely correct in your assessment. The propaganda to undermine public school teachers has taken a terrible toll on students’ lives and on public education. The policy of total standardization, with no leeway for individualization of students’ needs, is the antithesis of what will help students grow. That policy is being mandated by those in positions of power whose instructional ignorance is embarrassing to behold.”

———————————————————————

The link to Robert’s Story:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/roberts-story-love-never-fails/

Once Again

April 10th, 2012
10:10 am

LMAO – And your point is what exactly? Is the solution to close all private schools to make sure that every child gets as crappy an education as the government provides? One of Hitler’s first acts was to close all the private schools as he knew they were out of his control for propaganda purposes. You know there are plenty of less than well-to-do folks who sacrifice so their kids can attend private schools or they homeschool. Thankfully they have the option to get out of the broken system. The sad thing is how many folks actually believe the system of government schools is about education and can actually be “fixed.” All that its existence does is give parents a false sense of security and an incentive to no longer care about their kid’s education. But then that is also the point and the plan.

PatDonws

April 10th, 2012
10:11 am

“Relatively few young people are college material. And for the rest, their interests would better be served through a blend of academic and vocational courses. And yet, we as a society can’t bring ourselves to admit this and commit to the needed changes.”

This is a salient point Jane W. Don’t agree with the rest of your comment though.

@ Struthers, MIltonMan, etal…you folks add absolutely zero to the discussion. Why even come on here with such negativity and devisiveness?

jd

April 10th, 2012
10:13 am

If you will dig through your clips files- you will find that the grad rate resembles the number given when Gov. Perdue adjusted the formula to hit 80% — so — the “improvement” was a facade — 10 years of Deconstructive Policies

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

April 10th, 2012
10:15 am

“I believe that in order to attack a problem you have to have honest and accurate data.” Well-said, John.

high school teacher

April 10th, 2012
10:16 am

“Almost 40% of Georgia’s students are not graduating from high school and no matter how you try to spin it, that is horrendus but I suppose as long as the children and grandchildren of those in power in Georgia are doing fine who gives a dxxx about the rest of the state.”

Correction: Almost 40% of students don’t graduate in four years. Some of them graduate in five, but they are not included in the graduation rate. The term “graduation rate” is a misnomer.

Oblama

April 10th, 2012
10:21 am

Abolish the Teacher’s unions and fire some of these bums that can’t even read and write themselves much less teach someone else. Unfortunately, with administrators in Atlanta and elsewhere forging test scores and grades there is no accurate record of the lack of this uneducation.

Getting the rate is the first step

April 10th, 2012
10:22 am

Getting an accurate rate is the first step to improving it.
I applaud this effort.

Atlanta Mom

April 10th, 2012
10:22 am

LMAO
In a word, yes, you did miss something.

Dunwoody Mom

April 10th, 2012
10:23 am

Maureen, do you know if the State BOE plans to release the rates by subgroup?

Anonmom

April 10th, 2012
10:24 am

yes — once again — I agree — I think “public education” is more about the “training of flees” than I had once wanted to really believe…. if you layer on the corruption that is very evident in DCSS and APS with the rampant diversion of funds away from the classroom, the only answer is real competition.

Atlanta Mom

April 10th, 2012
10:25 am

And for those of you wondering how the numbers are crunched, see Ms. Downey’s blog from around noon yesterday, where all was revealed.

Just A Teacher

April 10th, 2012
10:28 am

I’m not surprised at that figure, but let me ask a simple question. What would the graduation rate be without any teachers?

Unfortunately that is where we are heading. Fewer people are considering public education as a viable career option and turnover in the teaching profession has always been high. The result is an impending teacher shortage which is going to impact public education in an extremely negative manner.

In the meantime, I will continue to struggle to get teenagers to read books instead of text messages, write papers instead of graffiti, and find solutions rather than trouble. Those who try to master these master these skills will probably graduate and those who refuse to try will not. C’est la vie!

A Conservative Voice

April 10th, 2012
10:30 am

As long as you have a culture of baggy pants and hooded shirts, ain’t nuthin’ gonna change. And, as long as our glorious government will support those that can’t/won’t work, really, what difference does it make whether you graduate from high school? This is more complex than bad teachers/bad administrators/bad schools/bad school boards…….this is a breakdown of our society brought on by our entitlement programs that make it more profitable not to work and, worse than that “Not to Care”.

Misty Fyed

April 10th, 2012
10:31 am

Some of the bloggers hear make it sound like the school system is forcing these kids to drop out. The problem I see is there is no real consequence for dropping out. The tax dollars of those who go on to pay taxes pays for all the basic needs of the drop outs. Realization kicks in only after years go by and the drop outs realize there is a glass ceiling that limits their lifestyle potential based on the decision they made not to graduate high school.

Schools can obviously improve but lets put the blame on the shoulders of those truly responsible. The ones who are dropping out.

school_is_home

April 10th, 2012
10:32 am

I guess if we could wrap our heads around the idea that something isn’t working we might be open to fixing it. How about trying single sex schools, core subjects taught by instructional level and not by Age Appropriate Grade level? How about we rotate the teachers throughout the county schools, so that they teach in a different school every year or two? They’ll manage, after all they’re grown-ups and it’s just about what happens to the kids. All the stake holders might then be motivated to try a little harder (there’d be the loyalty problem, but we can surely find work-arounds). Storming, norming and conforming would abound.

How about we allow students to move on when ready, even if it’s before 16? The others who aren’t ready should have technical, vocational and other options. Service academies that support the on-going education of students who must enter the job market (or should leave the classroom for the good of all concerned) can be run to teach them how to type, create a PO, take shorthand, earn a CDL license, learn CPR, whatever skills they need to develop in order to land or keep a job until they reach the age of 18 (why not 21?).

I think many American children live in an illusion. Expose them to real life at 14-16 so that they understand the value of that HS diploma. Realistically speaking, there must be some kids who are more interested in cooking than Math3. Why can’t they be supervised in the creating of meals for their fellow students in the mornings and still earn credits toward graduating? If they had to create meal plans based on forecasted attendance, do the pro-forma budget and schedule the workers, they might actually be attractive to a future employer.

A little flexibility might really help.

MiltonMan

April 10th, 2012
10:33 am

Pat:

“@ Struthers, MIltonMan, etal…you folks add absolutely zero to the discussion. Why even come on here with such negativity and devisiveness?”

Ever heard of the 1st amendment??? If you do not like my fact-based post, feel free to not mention them by name. Also, please convince me that what I have posted is indeed incorrect then you might actually have a valid argument.

Once Again

April 10th, 2012
10:34 am

Benjamin Disraeli once said “There are 3 kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Change that to government statistics and you know everything you need to about the unemployment numbers, the CPI, the Inflation Rate, the actual size of the debt, and the graduation rate.

Ashley

April 10th, 2012
10:35 am

I knew 80% was too high or just wishful thinking. An 80% graduation rate would have put Georgia right up there with Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa who all had rates of 85% or better. Georgia was rank 46 with a 65.4% graduation rate. So it looks like the powers that be in Georgia need a refresher course in simple math.

Ron F.

April 10th, 2012
10:41 am

WOW- in about an hour, we’ve had the usual “it’s the liberals who won’t give us vouchers and walk around with their pants hanging down that are to blame” discussion. Typical, I suppose.

As mentioned earlier, a child who takes an extra year to graduate counts as a dropout. A kid who graduates with a special ed. diploma or gets a GED counts as a dropout. I teach the kids who will take five years to graduate- and most of them turn out to be productive adults. Many of those getting GED’s go on to work or further schooling. There’s no way to calculate the number who are labeled as dropouts who do, in fact, go on to be productive citizens (and many of them are quite conservative for the crowd that thinks they’re all lazy, liberal thugs).

Oblama

April 10th, 2012
10:43 am

Forty years ago the graduation rate (on time) was 97 %. There once were traditional families with a mother AND a father that actually took the responsibility to see that their children got an education. Now the kid doesn’t know who daddy is, mama’s on crack and day care and grandma are raising the children. My how far we have fallen. It’s not all the teacher’s fault.

Ron F.

April 10th, 2012
10:45 am

“Abolish the Teacher’s unions and fire some of these bums that can’t even read and write themselves much less teach someone else.”

Or better yet, those who think this way should become the teachers for the new charter schools everyone wants. Come teach a while and let us know how it goes.

Just A Teacher

April 10th, 2012
10:45 am

“How about trying . . . core subjects taught by instructional level and not by Age Appropriate Grade level?”

This is something I have been saying for years. I believe that, if you read on a 3rd grade level, you should be in the third grade, regardless if you are 5 or 20 years old. It is difficult to teach 9th grade literature to someone who reads on a 2nd grade level, but what 2nd grade teacher wants a 15 year old in class?

Dunwoody Mom

April 10th, 2012
10:45 am

@Ron, the 2011-2012 Grad Rate for the state of Georgia will be a 5-year rate calculation.

Ron F.

April 10th, 2012
10:48 am

“Milton HS – 96%. The token democrats in the area make up the 4% that do not graduate.”

You sure about that? I’ve found dropping out doesn’t follow political party lines. In my experience, kids graduating depends on a lot of factors, political affiliation NOT being one of them. I’ve taught a long time, and children who don’t graduate or don’t graduate on time have been from every political/socioeconomic group you can find.

Mary Elizabeth

April 10th, 2012
10:49 am

“I’ve spoken before of the advantages of a tuition voucher system in K-12, and how it would transfer important education decisions to parents. Here’s another example of how we could re-direct education—and achieve the above balance—through the individual choices of parents and students FINALLY FREE TO CHOOSE schools which deliver the education/training they seek.”
===============================================

Not a good idea. Vouchers would be using public funds for private education, which is not equitable for taxpayers, such as myself, who have no children in school but who pay property taxes to educate all students for the public good of society as a whole, and not for private interests.

Moreover, adopting a voucher system of educating students would only serve the self-interests of the already well-off. Those parents who are at the bottom rung of income groups would not be well served by vouchers because – even with vouchers – these families would not be able to afford any school other than their local public schools. (Transportation to another school setting would be an expense and a problem for them, among other financial considerations that they must weigh.) Vouchers would, in fact, take financial resources away from their local public schools so that they would end up being less well-served.

We would be wiser as a state, and as a nation, to invest in improving our public schools rather than to attempt to dismantle traditional public schools – unless we are willing to turn into a nation wherein the discrepancy between the classes will grow even wider than it already has grown.

Maureen Downey

April 10th, 2012
10:51 am

@Oblama, Not sure of your source for 97 percent: This is from Ed Week, which has a wonderful examination of grad rates over 140 years:
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/06/10/34swanson.h29.html

From the article: (If you are interested, take a look as the report has lots of data.)

Secondary schooling in the United States started as an essentially elite pursuit, with a mere 2 percent of the population acquiring the equivalent of a high school education in 1870, the earliest year for which data are available. It was not until several decades into the 20th century that Americans witnessed a quantum leap in engagement with high school, a transformation propelled by the ever-more-rapid industrialization of the U.S. economy and a continuing shift away from the nation’s agrarian past.

The share of the population with a secondary education increased threefold from 1920 to 1940, when, for the first time, a slim majority of American youths graduated from high school. Finishing high school became more firmly established as a social and educational norm in postwar America, as the graduation rate rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s. Completion rates peaked in 1969, with 77 percent of that high school class earning diplomas.

The next three decades were marked by a retreat from those historical highs; the graduation rate eroded incrementally at certain times and fell significantly at others, including a sharp drop during the first half of the 1990s. Although the nation regained some ground between the late 1990s and 2005, the graduation rate now stands at about the same level as it did in the early 1960s.

Atlanta Mom

April 10th, 2012
10:53 am

Oblama: Forty years ago the graduation rate (on time) was 97 %.
Would you like to cite a source for that ridiculous statistic? Or is this just “the good old days” in your mind.

Pluto

April 10th, 2012
10:56 am

So one in three is not graduating, will they wind up in orange jump suits sapping resources from society and generally causing mayhem or is there any plan beyond their own devices? Then there’s one in three that probably is quite average but not really college material; there’s hope here. And finally, one in three is “probably actually” college material. That sounds about right.

Ron F.

April 10th, 2012
11:02 am

“Those parents who are at the bottom rung of income groups would not be well served by vouchers because – even with vouchers – these families would not be able to afford any school other than their local public schools.”

As is the case in any discussion about education reform, those that matter are those who have the resources to benefit from the proposed reform, and those that won’t are almost always overlooked. Considering the make up of Georgia’s government, we’ve all but sealed the fate of public schools here, and only after the damage is done and billions of dollars thrown away will we realize what a mess we’ve created. All I can say is God help the next generation of kids.

Teacher

April 10th, 2012
11:02 am

The new graduation rate, in a nut shell, favors non-transient students who graduate in four years. Therefore, ELL and special ed students on five year diplomas do not graduate in the eyes of the system. Tell that to a child and his or her parents. Imagine having the conversation with a family and telling them their child has learned and met standards, passed the necessary assessments but only took a little longer, and because of that time span, your child has not graduated in the eyes of “the system”; the same “system” that so many people have put in their trust for years. Obviously, the system is broken. Local public educatos get a bad wrap because there are state and federal policies and practices that are mandated. I think it is about time we question the mandates practices from the higher powers. It is not public educators who are the problem. It is the misuse of funds and resources. Education is quickly losing its best teachers to higher education and other careers because of the lack of trust in teachers’ abilities to educate and guide students. Policy and procedures are only standardizing our students. Is that what we want? A society full or robotic, standardized citizens who can bubble in circles but can not think on their own?

k teacher

April 10th, 2012
11:04 am

Oblama = busted !!