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Georgia graduation rate hits record high
But Statesboro High pulls Bulloch’s rate below state average
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The Georgia Department of Education this week announced that 82% of Georgia high school seniors as of 2018-19 graduated after four years, the state’s highest on-time graduation rate yet with the current reporting method.

But the four-year graduation rate for the Bulloch County Schools dipped to its lowest point in five years. Only 79.9% of Bulloch’s public high school seniors graduated on time this year, down from 85.1% in 2018, which was 3.5 points higher than last year’s statewide rate of 81.6%

Last school year, with the graduating class of 2019, was also the first time in five years Bulloch County’s graduation rate was lower than the state’s.

 

SEB, Portal top state

In fact, both Portal High School and Southeast Bulloch High School continued to exhibit graduation rates significantly higher than the statewide rate. But Statesboro High School, which with more than 1,600 students enrolls about 56% of the county school system’s students in grades 9-12, saw its on-time graduation rate drop to 73.7% from the previous year’s 82.6%.

Southeast Bulloch High School again had the county’s highest four-year graduation rate of 90.04%, an increase of 1.33 percentage points over 2018. Only 175 of Georgia’s public high schools achieved a rate of 90% or higher, Hayley Greene, the Bulloch County Schools public relations and marketing specialist, noted in her news release on the graduation rates.

“This is the first time our graduation rate has risen above 90 percent,” Southeast Bulloch High School Principal Stephen Hoyle said in the release. “This is a major accomplishment for our faculty, staff, and students. The interventions that our faculty has implemented over the past three years led to this increase and an overall increase in our school’s College and Career Ready Performance Index.”

Four- and five-year graduation rates form a key component of the CCRPI, Georgia’s main school accountability tool. The state is scheduled to release CCRPI scores, five-year graduation rates and school climate ratings in late October.

The rates reported this week are four-year rates, reflecting the number of students who graduate with a regular high school diploma four years after entering ninth grade, adjusted for the number of students who transfer.

Portal Middle High School again had the Bulloch County system’s second highest four-year graduation rate, 84.62%, which was a 2.88-point decrease from Portal’s 2018 rate of 87.5%. But 2019’s graduation rate was Portal’s second highest in six years, and 2.62 points above the statewide rate.

The school also exceeded the state’s graduation targets for its black and economically disadvantaged students.

 

SHS more ‘transient’

“Statesboro High, unlike the district’s other high schools, is struggling to meet the needs of an increasingly transient student population,” Greene wrote in the release.

She noted that one-third of SHS students in the Class of 2019 did not start their ninth-grade year at the school. For students who enrolled at Statesboro High within 30 days of the start of their ninth-grade year, the graduation rate was 77.8%, while for those who transferred to SHS after starting high school elsewhere, the graduation rate was only 54.9%, Greene reported.

Statesboro High’s teacher-led teams called professional learning communities, or PLC’s, are working “to implement multiple new interventions to help address the unique needs” of the school’s “inner-city student demographic and at-risk learners” and have been doing so for two years, Greene reported.

“Once this year’s graduation data was made available, Statesboro High leaders and teachers took immediate action,” she wrote.

They participated Sept. 12 in a review of the rates and related information, a “graduation rate data dig,” led by Dr. Noralee Edwards, the school system’s director of data support.

“This support will help Statesboro High’s administrators and faculty better understand weak areas, identify root causes, make data-driven decisions, and explore possible options to continually improve,” Greene wrote.

In another effort to boost graduation, since January 2018, the Bulloch County Schools have been offering an evening and summer-school program, called the Graduation Performance Academy, or GPA for short. It allows high school and selected middle school students to earn credits toward graduation outside their regular school days, with a meal and transportation provided.

 

State rate way up

State officials said Georgia's graduation rate, now 82% has risen from 70% in 2012, the Associated Press reported.

As of this year, across the state, 91% of Asian and Pacific Islander students graduated in four years, as did 86% of white students, 80% of African American students and 76% of Hispanic students. Among students with disabilities, 63% graduated on time, as did 59% of those learning English and 77% of students from economically disadvantaged households.

In Bulloch County, 71.1% of African American students graduated in four years, as did 86% of white students, 71.2% of Hispanic students and 84.4 percent of multiracial students. Among Bulloch students with disabilities, 60% graduated on time, as did 70.2 percent of those from economically disadvantaged households.

At Southeast Bulloch High School this year, the on-time graduation rate of black students, 96%, exceeded that of white students, 90.1%.

The state Department of Education said 71 of Georgia's 181 school districts saw graduation rates of 90% or more, while 24 districts saw graduation rates of 95% or more.

State Superintendent Richard Woods said he salutes teachers and students "who are doing the on-the-ground work that leads to increases in our graduation rate and other indicators."

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