Clayton County Public Schools below state average on 2013 graduation rates

JONESBORO — Clayton County Public Schools is graduating students on time at a rate far below the state average.

The Georgia Department of Education released the state’s 2013 graduation rates this week at 71.5 percent, up from 69.7 percent in 2012 and 67.5 percent in 2011. However, the average rate in Clayton County remains far below those averages at 55.8 percent for 2013.

The department also released school-level rates in which none of the district’s high schools surpassed a graduation rate of 70 percent. The rates for 2013 were: 50.6 percent at Charles Drew, 51.8 percent at Forest Park, 64.6 percent at Jonesboro, 67.1 percent at Lovejoy, 59 percent at Morrow, 59 percent at Mount Zion, 58.1 percent at Mundy’s Mill, 49.6 percent at North Clayton and 48 percent at Riverdale.

Clayton County Board of Education members Michael King and Jessie Goree have been vocal about improving student achievement on standardized tests.

King, in particular, has advocated for improving instruction and tutoring to help students on national standardized tests.

Goree said she believes transitioning into different math curricula over the past few years has played a role in students’ overall academic success.

“One of our biggest problems is our math scores haven’t been good,” she said. “From my understanding, that’s an area we’re focusing on.”

Goree said she wants to see the board more active in what it can do, within its powers and authority, to help improve student achievement.

“We want quality education for our kids,” she said. “I think that our staff and our superintendent are working diligently with a lot of things in place to improve the graduation rate. I don’t think, as a board, we’re doing enough because we need to have some real conversations about our testing data.”

The U.S. Department of Education requires all 50 states to use the cohort rate to calculate graduates. This is the third year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using the adjusted cohort rate formula.

Officials said the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman. The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers, while the previous calculation included students who take longer than four years to graduate.