By Rachel Shirey
Georgia had a 67-percent overall graduation rate for the 2010-11 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the third-worst in the country, above only New Mexico and Nevada. Clayton County’s overall graduation rate was 51.48 percent.
State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said in a press conference that the Georgia DOE has tried to communicate for two years that people should have anticipated a 10- to 15-percent drop in the graduation rates when the new cohort rate was initiated. He said the 13-percent drop shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Georgia is graduating the same number of students, despite the appearance of a drop in percentage rates. The way the numbers are calculated has changed from the previous method, the Leaver rate.
Despite the staggeringly low number, the rates have improved from 2009 to 2011. The Georgia graduation rate in 2009 was only 58.6 percent.
“Regardless of methodology, the percentage or the rate of increase in Georgia’s graduation rate has steadily increased over the last several years,” Barge said. “In fact, we are graduating more students than we ever have before in the state of Georgia. Now, are we happy where we are? Absolutely not, but what we do know is that there are things and there are initiatives that we put in place that are helping and are working to graduate more students.”
Graduation rates for each high school in Clayton County are below the state rate. Lovejoy High School is at 61.12 percent, the best in the county. Jonesboro High School is at 58.45 percent; Mundy’s Mill High School, 57.87 percent; Mt. Zion High School, 56.58 percent; Riverdale High School, 53.58 percent; Morrow High School, 51.29 percent; North Clayton High School, 48.82 percent and Forest Park High School, at 42.50 percent. No figures were available for Drew High School.
Barge said that from research they have discovered that high school dropouts find school to be boring or irrelevant. The Georgia DOE is taking necessary steps to make classes more engaging to those students, thereby slowly improving the graduation rate, he said.