Method of calculating graduation rate
State changes method of calculating graduation rate
Posted on 04/10/2012

The Georgia Department of Education today released the new, four-year public high school graduation rate that replaces the old method of graduation rate calculation. The rates for schools across the state will change because the calculation method has changed. It does not mean that schools in the state are not doing as well graduating students. In fact, Floyd County is moving forward with effective methods to help more teens reach their goal of graduation than ever before. The state had anticipated that graduation rates might drop as much as 15 percent when the new calculation method was in place but Floyd County Schools performed much better than the projection by dropping abut half of the anticipated rate and finishing above the state average. Floyd County Schools new rate of graduation, called the Cohort Rate, is 71.49 percent while the state rate was at 67.44 percent. The new calculation means that the graduation rate may appear dramatically lower but the number of students who actually graduate hasn't changed or has actually improved.

The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, will allow states to uniformly compare graduation rates across the nation. Historically, states have calculated graduation rates using varying methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next. Momentum for all states to produce a comparable four-year graduation rate began in 2005 with the leadership of the National Governors’ Association. Governors of all 50 states made a commitment to a common method for calculating each state’s high school graduation rate by signing the Graduation Counts Compact. 

The primary difference in calculating the new graduation rate from the state’s current method is the inclusion of student taking more than four years to graduate. The new method uses the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate” which means the rate only includes students graduating in four years.In contrast, Georgia’s old graduation rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which would include students who required more than four years to graduate from high school. 

“The new formula will provide a more uniform method of reporting and interpreting graduation data as you move from state to state so it will provide the result that state leaders from across the country were looking for in a graduation calculation," said Dr. Lynn Plunkett, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. "I also understand that not all students are the same, and while some may take a little longer to reach a goal, those students and the schools that support them are worthy of recognition." Plunkett added, "We have initiated several new opportunities with the College and Career Academy and the Performance Learning Center that are making a significant impact on the rate of graduation in Floyd County." 

The Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy is a charter career academy that focuses on preparing teens for the next step in life in college and the workforce. The program helps students relate academics to the real world by offering project based learning that lets students put their academic knowledge into action. Students can select from a wide range of career focus programs that will provide them with hands-on learning and apprenticeship opportunities. 

The Performance Learning Center is a self-paced learning center where students work with technology assisted by teachers to complete education requirements on their terms and their timeline. The program is a cooperative venture between Communities In Schools (CIS) and Floyd County Schools to help non-traditional students reach their graduation goal. The school system has also adapted the national CIS model to also include overage middle school students to help those students bring their graduation dream back into focus. The Performance Learning Center has graduated eight students so far this school year. "We have seen improvement in our graduation rate over the last several year and we look for even more improvements in the next few years because of these and other initiatives to keep kids in school," stated Plunkett.