The statewide high-school graduation rate rose more than two percentage points from 67.4 percent in 2011 to 69.7 percent in 2012 — but both high schools in Liberty County soar above that rate.
The Georgia Department of Education on Tuesday released 2012 four-year cohort graduation rates for the second year under a new formula as required by the U.S. Department of Education.
“I am so proud of our administration,” LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer said. “The improvement is a direct result of the collaborative efforts between the two schools — working together to develop, implement and assess the curriculum to meet the needs of the students.”
Bradwell Institute’s 2012 four-year cohort graduation rate is 73.23, a large increase from 64.4 percent last year, which was the first year new calculations were used to determine graduation rates.
Liberty County High School’s four-year cohort graduation rate is 74.42, slightly up from 74.05 last year.
The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman, the state release said.
The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. In contrast, Georgia’s former graduation-rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate from high school.
Liberty County High School Principal Paula Scott said she did not expect a big change in the school’s graduation rate, as many of the decreases for 2011 were the result of schools not tracking students who transferred out of the system.
“Because we did keep track of our students who withdrew, and we kept copies of all requests for records that we received from other schools when these students went to enroll there, we were able to count more students as ‘transfer students’ as opposed to them counting as a dropout and negatively impacting our cohort graduation rate in 2011,” Scott explained.
She added that the school’s goal is to achieve a graduation rate of 100 percent.
“However, this will be virtually impossible to achieve as long as the state continues to count special-education students who complete (individualized education program) requirements but do not meet all state standardized testing requirements as dropouts,” she said.
Still, Scott said the school will work toward its 100 percent goal by ensuring that all students complete a graduation pathway, targeting students who need remediation or additional support and ensuring that all classes are standards-based, with teachers using data from common and formative assessments to guide their instruction.
Bradwell Institute Principal Scott Carrier said while he is pleased to see his school’s graduation rate increase from last year, the number still is not satisfying.
Some of the increase can be attributed to better tracking students who transferred out of Bradwell, he said. But much of the increase came from in-school initiatives.
“We are continually striving to find ways to keep our students in school and graduating on time,” Carrier said. “This school year we have met as a whole staff monthly with the purpose of finding causes of students not graduating on time, and then (finding) strategies to implement which will positively impact our students.”
For example, Carrier said the students who struggle academically have poor attendance rates, and the school is working to further engage those students.
Bradwell also has been working with parents to provide another layer of accountability for student performance and working to increase student enthusiasm for extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs.
“These organizations can also help to keep the students excited about school, and thus do better while here,” Carrier said.