The results are in: Georgia’s high school graduation rate reached an all-time high of 82% during the 2018-19 school year. The rate has increased 12% since 2012 when the federal government changed the requirements for reporting graduation rates.
In metro Atlanta, the Cobb County School District’s rate ticked up to 86.98%. Gwinnett County Public Schools went from 81.7% to 80.9%. The Fulton County School System inched up .4% to 87.2%. The DeKalb County School District dropped 1.5 percentage points to 73.4%. Clayton County Public Schools increased a point to reach 72.7%. Atlanta Public Schools dropped 2% to 77.9%.
Clayton County Superintendent Morcease Beasley said his district is constantly thinking of ways to improve outcomes.
“When I see 73%, I think of 100 students,” he said. “73 are graduating. I think of the 27 that are not graduating. So, we’re always trying to figure out, ‘What can we do? What can we do to ensure that our kids are graduating?'”
One obstacle, Beasley says, is the county’s high student mobility rate. Almost a third of Clayton County students move schools at least once during the year. Beasley said the district plans to work with county commissioners and apartment managers to try to stabilize neighborhoods.
Despite the mobility issue, two Clayton County schools had graduation rates of 100%. Beasley believes that kind of progress will continue.
“Our goal, according to our strategic plan, is within the next 3-4 years to get all of our schools as close or higher than 90% as possible,” he said.
In Atlanta, even though the overall rate dropped 2 points, the district graduated 68 more students in 2018-19 than it did in 2017-18.
“More kids are staying in APS, moving up through middle and high school,” said Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. “That’s always good news. The better news is that it’s the highest number of on-time graduates we’ve had since 2012.”
Five APS high schools had rates above 90%. The Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy graduated 100% of its seniors last year, an increase of more than 6%.
“I think that’s great for what started off as an innovative design some years ago but had struggled over time until we stabilized the approach and allowed for the programs to really grow and take root,” Carstarphen said.
Georgia’s graduation rate is slightly below the national rate of 84.6%.
A note of disclosure: The Atlanta Board of Education holds WABE’s broadcast license.