The rate for Cobb’s 16 high schools, which was determined by the 2012 graduation figures, is 76 percent. It was 73 percent in 2011. Marietta High’s is 62 percent, compared to 59 percent in 2011.
The number for Georgia in 2012 is 70 percent.
The rates are determined by the number of students who enter high school in ninth grade and graduate within four years.
Ten of Cobb high schools’ graduation rates stayed the same or showed increases in the percentage of students that graduated. These schools are Walton, Wheeler, Pope, Allatoona, Sprayberry, McEachern, Wheeler, North Cobb, Osborne and South Cobb.
Amy Krause, Cobb’s chief academic officer, said she was pleased with the results.
“Although the method of calculating the graduation rate has changed, we exceeded our district target for improvements as set in our Strategic Plan,” she said.
The state department changed the graduation rate calculation in 2011. Beforehand, the rate only accounted for the percentage of students who started and completed their 12th grade year in a school.
The county school with the largest increase is Osborne. The Marietta-area school’s graduation rate increased by 22 percentage points, from 43 percent in 2011 to 65 percent in 2012.
“This is awesome news,” said Osborne Principal Josh Morreale. “I had a strong feeling that we were definitely making great improvements.”
He attributes the increase to the school’s focus on how they teach, the relationship between students and teachers, and reminding students that the faculty truly believes in them.
“I really think the relationship piece with the instruction has built success at Osborne,” he said.
Morreale said he recognizes there is still room for a higher graduation rate.
“Even with this increase, we’re still going to have areas that improvement is needed,” he said. “I know that and we’ll continue to do that.”
The schools in Cobb that reported drops in the graduation rate were Kennesaw Mountain, Kell, Lassiter, Hillgrove, Campbell and Pebblebrook.
As far as how Cobb Schools will improve on these scores, Krause said each have identified specific strategies to obtain success.
“There are challenges that each school works through such as student transiency, teachers transfers, etc., that make it difficult for some schools,” she said.
“However, our principals and teachers rally together to meet those challenges head on and provide supports for students to make the difference. The commitment from our teachers and administrators and from our community, who all believe in an excellent education, will continue to move us forward.”
For Marietta High School, the rate increased by 3 percentage points from 59 to 62.
“I recognize that there is some improvement but I think that everyone recognizes that we still have a good ways to go to improve the number of students who are graduating,” said Marietta Superintendent Emily Lembeck.
Student mobility, or the transient rate, continues to play a role in the city school district’s rate.
Lembeck’s staff is working to improve its way of tracking students who withdraw or transfer from Marietta City Schools.
If a student enters the school at any grade level in high school and leaves without informing the district of where they are going, that student is counted against Marietta High’s graduation rate.
Lembeck said her district’s mobility rate is high because of the percent of rental properties in the city limits. Approximately 58 percent of property in the city is rented, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.
“We are not making excuses,” she said. “We would prefer much larger gains, but some of what we’re doing is in the development phase and the implementation phase for those students in ninth grade.”
The district’s strategic plan, graduation campaign and charter renewal includes ways to improve the rate, starting at the freshman year.
Lembeck said data shows that the shift from middle school to high school can influence the dropout rates.
“You can’t underscore the importance of the social and organizational skills that students need to have as they enter the high school and go through a maturation phase,” Lembeck said. “For some students, that is very challenging.”