Graduation rates increase for Cobb, Marietta schools

A McEachern High School graduate stands next to a sign congratulating seniors.

Credit: Cobb County School District

Credit: Cobb County School District

A McEachern High School graduate stands next to a sign congratulating seniors.

Graduation rates rose in Cobb County and Marietta, despite the coronavirus pandemic forcing school systems to change how they educate students.

The 2020 graduation rate for the Cobb County School District is 88.6%, which is up from 86.9% in 2019, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education. The rate for Marietta High School, the only high school for the city system, jumped from 75.73 in 2019 to 83.7% in 2020.

The graduation rate also increased statewide, reaching 83.8%. That represents a new high since 2012, when Georgia began using a federally mandated formula to calculate the rate.

Marietta High School Principal Keith Ball said the increase can be attributed to “the dedication and hard work put forth by our students, families and staff.” He also said the class of 2020 overcame many challenges and obstacles to graduate.

“However, the character and resolve of our kids and teachers met the moment," he said in a press release. "When you achieve at this level in light of every reason to fail, you know you have the right people doing the right work at Marietta High School.”

Each student sub group at Marietta High School saw increases in their graduation rates, the system said. The rate jumped for Black students by 11.2 percentage points to 89%. It also rose from 64.6% to 72% for Hispanic students, 71.5% to 82.9% for economically disadvantaged students and 60% to 66.6% for students with disabilities. The graduation rate for Marietta High School’s white students also rose by 7.9% percentage points to 95.9%.

Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said teachers and principals helped a record number of students graduate despite the challenges brought on by the new coronavirus pandemic.

“The highest graduation rate in district history is evidence of our One Team’s commitment to student success, even during a school year when our students, staff, and communities were faced with every possible obstacle,” he said in a press release.

Harrison High School had the highest graduation rate in the district with 98.3%. Following Harrison were Lassiter at 97.6%, Walton at 97.5%, Hillgrove at 96.4% and Pope at 95.8%. Cobb also said 15 of its high schools saw increases in their rates from last year. The highest include South Cobb High School with a 7.4 percentage point boost, followed by North Cobb at 4.5, Pebblebrook at 3.4, Kell at 3.1 and Osborne at 3.

A look at graduation rates over the years for Cobb County high schools.

Credit: Cobb County School District

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Credit: Cobb County School District

Graduation rates also increased in many school districts across the metro region. Atlanta Public Schools' rate for 2020 is 80.3%. Gwinnett reached 83.2% this year, DeKalb 76%, and Clayton 76.7%. While Fulton County Schools and the much-smaller City Schools of Decatur both exceeded the statewide average, both systems saw their rates drop slightly compared to 2019.

Fulton’s 2020 rate was 85.5%, down 1.7 percentage points from last year. Decatur, while still having one of the state’s highest rates, dropped slightly from 95.2% in 2019 to 94.9% this year.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Vanessa McCray contributed to this report.