Moultrie Observer

Education

April 11, 2012

Graduation rate slips under new formula

Colquitt County ranks well in state

MOULTRIE — Under a new formula used for measuring the state’s graduation rate Colquitt County Schools lose about 5 percentage points, but the system still comes out on top among area schools.

Using the new formula, the 2011 graduation rate of 81.4 percent drops to 75.54 percent for Colquitt County. That rate is about 8 percentage points better than the state rate of 67.44 percent.

The lowest graduation rate under the new system was 40 percent in Taliaferro County, while Chickamauga City Schools was first with a 97.44 percent graduation rate.

Among schools in Southwest Georgia, Colquitt County’s graduation rate was near the top; Cook County led the immediate area with a rate of 77.73. Others in the area trailed Colquitt County, including Pelham City Schools, 75.49 percent; 72.8 percent in Grady County; 71.89 percent in Early County; and 71.7 percent in Seminole County.

Colquitt County’s graduation rate puts it at number 62 among the 180 school districts in the state.

Previously, Georgia calculated the graduation rate including those who took more than four years after entering ninth grade to get a diploma. The new calculation includes only those students who graduate within four years of their freshman year.

Using the old calculation method, at which the overall graduation rate in Colquitt County was calculated at 81.4 percent, the system showed dramatic improvement in the number of minorities receiving diplomas.

While the system’s overall graduation rate improved from 52.9 percent in 2003 to 81.4 percent in 2011, the percentage of blacks graduating increased from 36.1 percent in 2003 to 75.9 percent. Among Hispanic students, the rate increased from 24.3 percent to 77.1 percent.

School Superintendent Leonard McCoy said no one factor contributed to the improvements.

“It’s been like a shotgun with many small pellets that have been addressing the issues,” he said. “It’s just been unbelievable.

“I think (we are) improving schools and setting high expectations across the board. We’ve gone from having one of the lowest graduation rates in the state to one of the better in the state and in the area.”

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