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Grad rates drop across state

Posted: April 10, 2012 - 12:48pm  |  Updated: April 10, 2012 - 12:50pm

The Georgia Department of Education released graduation rates Tuesday using a new calculation method that significantly alters the 2011 scores of high schools across the state.

The new cohort graduation rate divides the number of students receiving a regular high school diploma at the end of the 2010-11 school year by the number of first-time ninth-graders in 2006-07, plus students who transfer in, and minus students who transfer out, emigrate, or die during the next four years.

The former method, called the leaver rate, calculated the number of diplomas awarded in a given year and divided by the total number of high school seniors, so the graduation rate included students who might have taken more than four years to finish.

“The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school,” state Superintendent John Barge said in a news release.

The leaver method bloated numbers because it did not accurately reflect the number of students who dropped out before 12th grade or if a student took longer than four years to graduate, said Tara N. Tucci, a senior research and policy associate at the Washington-based advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education.

The cohort method established Georgia’s average graduation rate at 67.4 percent last year. With the leaver rate, the state topped 80 percent in 2011.

Columbia County high schools showed a nearly 9 percentage point drop in graduation rate average using the cohort rate versus the leaver rate.

The school system’s average graduation rate for the 2010-11 school year using the leaver rate was 84.93 percent.

Using the cohort rate, the average graduation rate last school year in Columbia County is 75.95 percent.

The 8.98 percentage point drop, though, is slightly skewed.

State DOE figures exclude Grovetown High School from the leaver rate calculations last year because the new school had not yet had a graduating class that started there as freshmen. However, the cohort method does include Grovetown High’s 67.47 graduation rate in the new calculations.

Omitting Grovetown High, Columbia County’s average drop in graduation rate is 8.88 percentage points.

Greenbrier High fared best in Columbia County under the cohort rate with 89.01 percent, which is just 3.39 percentage points less than with a leaver calculation. Harlem High dropped 14.06 percentage points, from 73.3 percent to 59.24. Lakeside High fell more than 10 percentage points to 79.76 percent. Evans High’s graduation rate is 76.17 percent, a 7.73 percentage point drop.

Federal education rules mandate school systems use the new cohort rate.

In Richmond and Columbia counties, which have significant transient pupil populations because of a large military community, Columbia County schools Title 1 Director Lisa Soloff said the new Cohort Rate does provide a more accurate method to gauge schools dealing with numerous transfers each year.

COHORT VS. LEAVER RATES

School 2011 Cohort Rate 2011 Leaver Rate

Grovetown High 67.47 NA*

Harlem High 59.24 73.3

Lakeside High 79.76 90.1

Greenbrier High 89.01 92.4

Evans High 76.17 83.9

*Information not available in state DOE data.

  • Comment

Comments (6)

Little Lamb

Not quite right

Donnie Fetter missed the mark in paragraph 3. Even the Leaver Rate is a quotient. The “number of students graduating within four years” has to be divided by something.

Little Lamb

Drop-outs

Donnie Fetter wrote:

. . . and minus students who transfer out, emigrate, or die during the next four years.

Surely those who drop out are also subtracted out.

Craig Spinks

John Barge said,

"If we are going to tackle the high school graduation rate problem, we are going to need honest and accurate data."

Well-said, Superintendent.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

Little Lamb

Barge again

So this John Barge is saying that the data the school systems have given him to date is neither honest nor accurate. And he is also implying that the dishonesty and inaccuracy of the data is the reason his office has not been able to "tackle" the graduation rate problem.

Yeah, right.

Little Lamb

Update

Tracey McManus in the Chronicle updated her story last night at 7:38. Her story now more completely describes the formulae. Now it is clearer to me. The old "Leaver Formula" subtracted dropouts from the denominator. The new "Cohort Formula" leaves dropouts in the denominator. A larger denominator makes for a smaller graduation rate.

Now, where is the wisdom in the Cohort Formula? The school systems will spend billions to try to keep people from dropping out, all the while dumbing down the requirements to be able to hand them a diploma in four years (because failing 9th or 10th or 11th grade also counts against the school in the graduation rate formula).

Let's face it. Some students are miserable in high school. They need to drop out and find something satisfying in their lives. And then you've got special education students that count against the schools in the graduation rate race. We've got to get practical and get graduation rate out of the metrics of NCLB.

Craig Spinks

Barge again.

"So this John Barge is saying that the data the school systems have given him to date is neither honest nor accurate."

You got that right, LL.

"And he is also implying that the dishonesty and inaccuracy of the data is the reason that his office has not been able to "tackle" the graduation rate problem."

You got that wrong, LL. He's implying that he and his team can't fix a problem if they don't have accurate and complete data about its nature and extent.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

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