State graduation rate improves but some metro Atlanta districts still struggle

The state’s graduation rate ticked up in 2012, but less than 70 percent of high school students graduated within four years, data released by the Georgia Department of Education today shows.

At 69.72 percent, the state’s graduation rate is slightly higher than the 2011 graduation rate of 67.44 percent.

This is the second year graduation rates have been compiled using a more rigorous – some say more accurate – method. The previous calculation gave what state education officials now say was an inflated view of graduation rates.

“I am very pleased that our graduation rate continues to increase, no matter how it is calculated,” Georgia Superintendent John Barge said. “While our graduation rate is still far too low and we have much progress to be made, we are moving in the right direction.”

School and district graduation rates already serve as a stand-alone measure of performance. But they will take on even more importance because they are a component of the state's new school and district grading system, the college and career ready performance index (CCRPI).

The graduation rates released today will be used in calculating 2012 CCRPI grades that will be made public this fall.

Most metro Atlanta school districts saw improved graduation rates in 2012. At 91.41 percent, Decatur City Schools has the best graduation rate among the 15 metro Atlanta districts, with Atlanta Public Schools, at 50.87 percent, bringing up the rear.

APS was one of three metro Atlanta districts — Clayton (53.61 percent) and DeKalb (57.28 percent) with graduation rates lower than 60 percent.

Fayette County Schools saw the biggest improvement in metro Atlanta, going from a graduation rate of 78.23 percent in 2011 to 85.53 percent in 2012. Gwinnett’s School of Mathematics, Science and Technology was one of four schools in the state with a 100 percent graduation rate. Cobb’s graduation rate was 76 percent with Fulton’s rate a 71.34.