Georgia’s High School Seniors Graduate at a Slightly Higher Rate

With the exception of the class of 2021, the state has made steady — and generally incremental — annual improvements.

A slightly higher proportion of students graduated on time last spring, according to the Georgia Department of Education. Families and students gather at Kennesaw State University Convocation Center for Campbell High School graduation on May 24. (Natrice Miller)

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Georgia high schools continued to make marginal gains in the percentage of students who graduate on time, with a rate of 84.4% for the class of 2023.

That “four-year adjusted cohort rate,” as the federal government calls it, was up 0.3 percentage points from the prior year, the Georgia Department of Education announced on Tuesday.

With one exception, the state has made steady — and generally incremental — annual improvements since the new measure was implemented over a decade ago.

The exception was in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the class of 2021 had an 83.7% rate, a tenth of a percentage point down from the prior year.

The measure works like this: The number of students who earn a regular high school diploma is divided by the number of students in the “adjusted cohort” for the graduating class. That cohort comprises all the students who entered a Georgia high school as freshmen four years prior, minus those who transferred outplus those who transferred in.

The U.S. Department of Education implemented the new measure to standardize reporting across the states. In 2011, Georgia’s rate plummeted under the new measure, falling to 67%. That was far lower than the nearly 81% rate state officials had touted before, and it ranked Georgia among the lowest performers nationally, below Alabama and Mississippi.

Georgia’s largest gain came in 2015, when 79% graduated in four years, up more than 6 percentage points from the prior class. Since then, the increases have generally been fractional, the gains exceeding 1 percentage point in only 2017 and 2020.

The current year’s rate is the highest Georgia has achieved under the measure. That prompted elected state schools Superintendent Richard Woods to say in a written statement that he was “incredibly proud” of the students, their families and their schools. He noted that Georgia had recently beat the national average on the SAT (but he didn’t note that the average total score fell 7 percentage points).

Woods said he was confident in continued “positive results as we invest in academic recovery and building a student-centered educational system.”

This story comes from our partners at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more on the news and events  in metro-Atlanta and Georgia, visit AJC.com.

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