Fulton County Schools’ high school graduation rate is at a new high, and its percentage remained higher than the state average.

“Our schools continue to identify struggling students early, provide multiple opportunities for credit recovery or advancement and work with these students and their families to get across the line,” said Cliff Jones, PhD., the district’s chief academic officer.

This was the explanation Jones gave the Fulton Board of Education at its Sept. 19 meeting at the South Learning Center in Union City after receiving the district’s graduation information just the day before from the Georgia Department of Education.

In the report, the state announced the school district’s 2019 four-year cohort graduation rate increased by 0.4% from last year to 87.2%. In metro Atlanta, Fulton’s rate leads all large school districts including Atlanta (78.0) and Cobb (87.0) DeKalb (73.4), Gwinnett (80.9) counties.

Georgia calculates a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as required by federal law. This rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class.

The adjusted cohort rate definition is: from the beginning of ninth grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently adjusted by adding any students who transfer into the cohort during the next three years, and subtracting any students who transfer out.

Jones said he’s happy the district’s rate remains above the state’s mark, which went up from 81.6% in 2018 to 82.0% this year.

“There were two subgroups that had increases of note,” Jones said. “Our students with disabilities had a graduation increase of 3.2%, while Hispanic students showed a 2.9% increase in graduation.”

Although the graduation growth this year was one to be celebrated, the district has not yet reached its strategic plan’s target of a 92.0%.

“This gap shows that there is work to be done, but be assured that (district) Superintendent Mike Looney’s focus on dropouts will be (the) staff’s focus,” Jones said.

In a news release posted to the district’s website, Superintendent Mike Looney, EdD., praised its rate and the fact Fulton remains well ahead of the state (5.2% this year). “The data shows that our district made progress on this front last year,” Looney said. “We intend to celebrate the hard work of our schools. We intend to remain laser focused on ensuring that this trend continues so that we can witness all of our students walk across the high school stage with a well-earned high school diploma. We haven’t arrived yet.”

Linda Bryant, the board’s president, said she was very proud of the district’s students, “especially those in south Fulton.”

“The credit for the rise in our graduation rate is the result of the hard work of our staff, our school board and everyone who has been involved,” she said.

The district’s goal is to increase its graduation rate to 92.0%, but Bryant said, “I want to see us achieve a 100% graduation rate, as that is where our school system wants to be.”

Regarding the district’s individual high school rates, Chattahoochee led the way at 97.9%. Four other high schools – Cambridge (97.6), Northview (97.0), Johns Creek (96.3) and Milton (95.4) – posted graduation rates above 95%.

“As we move forward, staff will be more purposeful and focused on decreasing the number of students who drop out of school,” Jones said. “This is a segment of the students who are non-4-year grads and a point of emphasis of Dr. Looney.”

Northside Bureau News Editor Everett Catts contributed to this report.

School 2018 2019 Change

State 81.6 82.0 +0.4

District 86.8 87.2 +0.4

Alpharetta 92.8 93.5 +0.7

Banneker 75.9 81.7 +5.8

Cambridge 97.3 97.6 +0.3

Centennial 91.7 92.3 +0.6

Chattahoochee 95.4 97.9 +2.5

Creekside 82.7 86.5 +3.8

Hapeville 94.8 92.2 -2.6

Independence 52.1 54.2 +2.1

Johns Creek 97.1 96.3 -0.8

Langston Hughes 86.4 88.8 +2.4

McClarin 69.3 47.9 -21.4

Milton 96.7 95.4 -1.3

North Springs 90.1 93.1 +3.0

Northview 96.4 97.0 +0.6

Riverwood 92.2 91.7 -0.5

Roswell 88.8 90.8 +2.0

Skyview 5.1 8.9 +3.8

Tri-Cities 80.9 84.0 +3.1

Westlake 91.5 92.3 +0.8

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