Georgia high school graduation rate inches higher

Georgia high school students continue to graduate in increasing numbers.

Even as enrollment has grown, the graduation has continued to climb, according to new figures released by the Georgia Department of Education Wednesday.

Last spring’s senior class for the first time topped an 80 percent graduation rate under the the 6-year-old federal measure known as the “four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate.”

The 80.6 percent rate was more than a full percentage point above the prior year rate of 79.4 percent, which in turn was higher than the prior year. Indeed, Georgia’s rate has climbed steadily since the federal government imposed the measuring method.

It only counts students who graduate within four years of starting high school, and requires school districts to track and document the graduations of students who move away. When it was first imposed, Georgia’s rate, like those across the country, plummeted.

In 2012, the baseline year, the state’s graduation rate was 69.7 percent.

The state education agency attributed the growth to school districts’ implementation of so-called “personalized” learning, such as “Career Pathways,” dual enrollment, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, work-based learning and internships. The agency said schools are getting better at using data to identify what each student needs and at making schools a safer and better place to learn.

“Georgia’s teachers, districts, and schools are personalizing education for each individual student, making sure those students are motivated and encouraged to stay in the classroom because they’re engaged in their learning, because they see how their education connects with their future goals,” said Richard Woods, the state schools superintendent.