The rate for Cobb’s 16 high schools, which was determined by the 2013 graduation figures, is 77 percent. It was 76 percent in 2012. Marietta High School boosted its graduation rate by 5 percent, jumping from 62 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2013. Georgia’s graduation rate in 2013 was 72 percent, up from 70 percent in 2012.
Rates are determined by the number of students who enter high school in ninth grade and graduate within four years. If a student graduates in five or more years, the student is not counted toward a school’s graduation rate.
Twelve of Cobb’s high schools either boosted their graduation rate or kept it the same. Those schools were Kennesaw Mountain, Kell, Harrison, Sprayberry, Lassiter, Hillgrove, Campbell, McEachern, Wheeler, North Cobb, South Cobb and Pebblebrook.
Those increases result from the hard work of students, parents and teachers in the school system, said Amy Krause, chief academic officer of Cobb schools.
“We dig into the data to try to find individual students and match them with a path to success, whether inside or outside the classroom,” Krause said. “In some instances, it’s been providing opportunities for remedial classes to recover previous content they may have missed. It’s also making sure records are clean and clear and we’re reporting accurately.”
Kennesaw Mountain saw the biggest jump in its graduation rate, up seven points from 80 percent to 87 percent.
Schools that saw decreases were Walton, Pope, Allatoona and Osborne. Krause said the school district identifies students at risk of missing graduation as early as ninth grade.
“Freshman year, they write an individual graduation plan,” she said. “We begin assessing that as far as course credit. Every year, those are reviewed with counselors and teachers to determine the plan that needs to be taken.”
Krause is attending several graduations this year, including Pope, Pebblebrook and Hillgrove.
“It’s one of the best times of the year,” she said. “You get to shake their hand, look in their eye and see the sense of accomplishment and the aspirations for their future.”
Overall, the Cobb school system will see 6,925 students graduate this year. The Cobb schools’ Class of 2013 had 6,824 graduates. The number of graduates at each individual school for 2014 had not been calculated by press time.
Several schools hosted graduation ceremonies at the Kennesaw State University Convocation Center. Other schools, such as Allatoona and McEachern, conducted ceremonies at their football stadiums. Kell, Pope and Osborne had their commencement ceremonies at the Cathedral at Turner Chapel in Marietta.
At Marietta High School, 396 students are graduating this year. The Class of 2013 saw 352 seniors receive a diploma. MHS Principal Leigh Colburn attributes this growth to the expanded resources afforded to today’s seniors, including tutors, graduation coaches and increased communication between teachers, parents and struggling students.
“We have a program called Graduate Marietta,” said Colburn, a 1983 Marietta High graduate who’s in her ninth year as principal. “We’ll have our young boys and girls dress in a graduation gown. Kindergarteners and first-graders take pictures of themselves as graduates. People sign contracts and promise to be there at graduation.”
Colburn said changing perception can be important for some students.
“We talk about why it’s important to stay in Marietta, what’s important about being a Blue Devil,” she said. “It should be a goal to be a high school graduate. Sometimes there’s a culture that graduating isn’t a priority. We want to make sure kids start thinking about the fact they want to be at the very least a high school graduate.”
This year’s class also marks a milestone for Marietta High School. It will be the last class to graduate in the current configuration of Northcutt Stadium, which was built in 1940. The stadium will undergo an estimated $10 million renovation next year and may not be completed by the time the Class of 2015 graduates.
Colburn talked about the tradition of Marietta High, where many of the students are the second-, third-, fourth- or even fifth- generation of their family to graduate from the school. She said it gives students a sense of something bigger than themselves.
“It’s part of the mystique of a one high school town,” Colburn said.