Of the 2,764 students in Cherokee County high schools in the 2013 class, 2,156 students, or 78 percent, graduated in four years, exceeding the state average of 71.5 percent, according to State Department of Education figures released Wednesday.
Fayette County schools scored highest in the 10-county metro Atlanta area with a four-year graduation rate of 87.3 percent.
Henry County schools had a graduation rate of 78.5 percent, and Cherokee schools tied with Rockdale County schools with 78 percent.
Creekview High School had the highest four-year 2013 graduation rate in Cherokee County at 87.4 percent, topping the state average by 15.9 percent.
While still exceeding the state average by four-tenths of a point, Cherokee High School had the lowest graduation rate at 71.9 percent.
Other Cherokee County high school graduate rates are: River Ridge with 84.5 percent, Etowah with 82.8 percent, Sequoyah with 77.3 percent and Woodstock with 80.3 percent.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said in a news release Wednesday
students and those who contribute to the district should be commended for the achievement.
“Graduation cannot be achieved by students alone, and we applaud the parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, support staff, business partners and volunteers who together prepare our students for commencement and success in the next phase of their lives,” Petruzielo said.
The district’s four-year graduation rate for the class of 2013 increased to 78 percent from 72.6 percent in 2012, while the district’s five-year graduation rate for 2012 was 76.1 percent, figures show.
Other metro Atlanta counties’ four-year graduation rates are: Clayton at 55.8 percent, Cobb at 76.5 percent, DeKalb at 58.9 percent, Douglas at 70.5 percent, Fayette at 87.3 percent, Fulton at 75.5 percent, Gwinnett at 72.7 percent, Henry at 78.5 percent, Rockdale at 78 percent and the City of Atlanta at 58.6 percent.
Despite a more rigorous equation for calculating graduation rates that was introduced three years ago by the U.S. Department of Education, Cherokee County and state graduation rates are on the rise, said State Superintendent Dr. John Barge.
“Under a more rigorous calculation method, the trend still shows that the percentage of our high school students graduating increases year to year,” Barge said in a news release. “Despite the economic challenges our districts are facing, we have more high school students graduating today than we have had in several years, which is a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers.”
The 2013 four-year graduation rate state average rose to 71.5 percent, from 69.7 percent in 2012, and 67.5 percent in 2011.
The current equation for four-year graduation rate starts when students enter high school as freshmen, and calculates how many of those students finish in four years.
The previous method calculated graduation rates by looking at students as they graduated, so those who took more than four years to graduate could still be included in the calculated graduation rate.
Petruzielo said the district supports all students, including those who need more time to reach the goal of graduation “because of other challenges in their life.”
“ACE Academy, our alternative day middle school/high school; Polaris Evening Program, our night high school; and C3 Academy, our expanded online middle school/high school program, are evidence of our long-standing and continued focus on providing academic choices to ensure graduation is attainable for every student,” he said.
The district had a 2012 five-year graduation rate of 76.1 percent, exceeding the state average of 71.6 percent.
Petruzielo said that many non-traditional students are not calculated into the graduation rate formula by the State Department of Education.
“It’s important to note that the inverse of these rates is not a ‘dropout’ rate.” Petruzielo said. “This is the third year the State DOE has used a more rigorous adjusted cohort formula to calculate graduation rates. The cohort begins when a student is a freshman; the previous formula defined the cohort upon graduation and included students who took more than four years to graduate from high school.”
Petruzielo said that some examples of students who are not counted in the rate include students who take more than five years to graduate; students who choose to get a GED or join the military; students who move out of the district without proper withdrawal or transfer documentation; and students who earn a special education diploma.
The superintendent pointed to strategies used by the district to improve graduation, including initiatives that were introduced this year, such as the superintendent’s Ad Hoc Graduation Rate Committee and the creation of a districtwide graduation coach.
“While many successful strategies already have been planned, developed and implemented in the school district during the past 15 years to ensure students complete high school with outstanding college and career readiness, we continuously review and improve practices in this regard,” Petruzielo said.
The Ad Hoc Graduation Rate Committee is nearing completion of an extensive review of district and state graduation rates, data tracking practices, state rules and existing initiatives, Petruzielo said.
“The committee has been tasked with making recommendations in regard to additional guidelines for reporting graduation rates and any other best practices that should be adopted districtwide,” he said.
The full report on Georgia graduation rates can be found online at the Georgia Department of Education website, at www.GDOE.ord. The report can be found in the “News and Announcements” section.