Thursday, October 1, 2009

FIinal AYP Report: Graduation Rate Rises to 78.9%

The state of Georgia's graduation rate rose to a high of 78.9 percent in 2009 -- an increase of three points over last year.

"A three-point jump in our graduation rate means that nearly 4,500 more students graduated with a full diploma this year than did last year," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "Our high school principals, teachers and students should take a lot of pride in the fact that more students than ever are graduating in Georgia."

Since 2003, the state's graduation rate has risen more than 15 points from 63.3 percent to 78.9 percent.

"In a short period of time, we have increased by thousands the number of students who are graduating with a full diploma," Superintendent Cox said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making steady progress every year."

The state's graduation rate was released as part of Georgia's final Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report. Preliminary AYP results were released in July. The final AYP report includes summer retest scores and summer graduates.

Highlights of the Final AYP report:

- One-hundred fifty (150) additional schools made AYP after summer retest scores and summer graduates were included. In total, 86 percent of Georgia's public schools made AYP in 2009, an increase of six percentage points from the final AYP report of 2008 (see list below).
- A total of 73 school districts had all schools make AYP in 2009, an increase of 25 districts from 2008 (see list below).
- Sixteen (16) additional schools came out of Needs Improvement (NI) status this year compared to initial AYP results released in July (see list below). That means a total of 74 schools shook the NI label in 2009. Of the 74 schools, 17 were in "state-directed" improvement, the highest consequence level in Georgia.

"It takes a lot of hard work and focus to come out of Needs Improvement, especially for schools that have been in NI for a long period of time," Superintendent Cox said. "Our school improvement team has worked closely with these schools and we know they have done the right things to improve student achievement today and for years to come."

AYP is the formula used to determine if schools are meeting expectations under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. It consists of three parts -- test participation, academic achievement and another statistic, called a "second indicator." The academic goals continue to rise every few years toward a goal of 100 percent proficiency for all students by 2014. This year, all of the academic goals remained the same as 2008, although the graduation rate bar went up.

All students at a school, as well as any qualifying subgroup of students, must meet goals in all three categories in order to "make AYP." Schools that do not make AYP for two consecutive years in the same subject are placed in "Needs Improvement" status and face escalating consequences. For more information on AYP, go to the Frequently Asked Questions about AYP.

Graduation Rate must be used as a "second indicator" for all high schools and the state of Georgia uses one of the federally-approved formulas for calculating the rate. Superintendent Cox said the graduation rate improvement is something to celebrate, but the hard work must continue.

"Improving the graduation rate is the top education priority in the state of Georgia," Superintendent Cox said. "I am proud of the progress we are making but we will not be satisfied until all Georgia students are graduating on-time with a meaningful diploma that prepares them for the 21st century."

To see Georgia's plan for improving the graduation rate, visit our Strategic Plan website.
In order to make AYP in 2009, a high school had to have a graduation rate of 75 percent or higher, up from 70 percent last year. If a school did not make that goal, they could use a "second look" which means:

- Having a graduation rate that averaged 75 percent or higher over the past three years OR
- Having a graduation rate of at least 55 percent the previous year (2008) and showing a 10 percent improvement in the rate this year.

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