The Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) has released the state’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate at 67.4 percent, according to a press release from the state.
This means that approximately one third of students are graduating from high school in four years across the state, and each high school in both school systems in Gordon County have been rated individually.
Recalculated: Errors Discovered
The graduation rate for Calhoun High School was calculated, with the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate, to be 79.44, down from the five-year formula, which calculated the school at 90.8 percent. However, Calhoun High School is anticipating a recalculation rate of 85.28 percent.
The graduation rate for Gordon County High Schools, calculated using the four-year adjusted cohort rate for both high schools, is 81.76 percent.
Gordon Central High School’s individual four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is 83.09 percent, down from the five-year formula, calculated at 86.3 percent.
Sonoraville High School’s individual four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is 83.52 percent, also down from the five-year graduation rate formula calculation at 88.04 percent.
This list released by the state is the federally mandated public notice of four-year adjusted cohort graduation rates all states are annually required to calculate and distribute to the public, according to Matt Cardoza, Director of Communications for the GDOE.
The new four-year formula is in response to the recently waived “No Child Left Behind Act,” according to Cardoza.
The four-year cohort rate will allow education administrators to compare graduation rates across the nation, as all states will be using the same formula.
“The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge, in a press release from the state.
The four-year cohort graduation rate is separate from the five-year graduation rate, which will be calculated and listed separately for accountability and comparison purposes across each individual state, according to Cardoza.
The numbers calculated for this graduation year, considered year 2011, will not be used for accountability purposes statewide (but will be used nationally) and are not a negative reflection of graduation rates. Though the numbers are slightly lower, graduation rates are actually increasing, according to Barge.
“We’ve known for some time and communicated that this new (four-year) formula would show a lower graduation rate than the rate under the previous formula; however, regardless of calculation formula, the state has significantly raised graduation rates over the last several years, but there is still much work to do,” said Barge.
Calhoun High School
The numbers are significantly lower in Calhoun City Schools due to an error detected in the recently released rates, according to Calhoun City School Superintendent Michele Taylor.
“We have identified data uploading concerns that contributed to some of the declines. These concerns have been reported to the GADOE. This preliminary rate will not count for accountability purposes,” Taylor.
Seventeen students moved out of state from Calhoun High School and were not properly “coded” as transfers, so they were configured into the new formula as dropouts, according to Taylor.
According to Cardoza, the appeal process for incorrect numbers regarding the new four-year cohort rate calculations has not been specified yet.
If schools can provide documentation on where the students in question transferred to, they will be coded accordingly as transfers, as opposed to dropouts.
Students are coded depending on their status, and calculated into both the four-year and five-year cohort rates to determine graduation rates, according to Cardoza.
Working with the GADOE, Taylor provided the proper paperwork to account for the 17 students in question. The students were coded properly, according to Taylor, and the four-year cohort rate was recalculated by the state at 85.28 percent.
“The preliminary report from the Georgia Department of Education (GADOE) stated that Calhoun High School’s cohort graduation rate was 79.44 percent,” said Taylor. “After reviewing data uploading procedures with accountability specialists from the State Department of Education, we anticipate that the new rate calculation for Calhoun High School will be 85.28 percent.”
The recalculated rate of 85.28 percent is an “anticipated recalculation,” according to Taylor and had not been officially released as of press time.
“The adjustment of 17 students will favorably affect the new graduation rate (of Calhoun High),” said Nancy H. Haight Accountability Specialist of the GADOE.
Taylor is hoping to prevent similar mistakes in the future by working with the GADOE.
“We are pleased to be able to work with the GADOE through this transition phase to ensure proper uploading procedures,” said Taylor. “Calhoun High School is already working on data records to make sure that all reports accurately reflect the new cohort graduation rate for the 2011-2012 school year.”
Gordon County School System
Gordon County is currently facing a similar dilemma, according to Gordon County Superintendent Dr. Bill McCown.
“We (Gordon County School System) are still accountable for the Downing Clark students. We have their children counted in our scores although we didn’t educate them,” said McCown.
The same problem applies from Calhoun High School to Gordon County system high schools.
Students who attended the Downing Clark Center, a residential private school, were not properly withdrawn from the county school system, thus these students are coded as “dropouts” in the school system’s graduation rate, according to Cardoza.
Consequentially, the graduation rates of the Gordon County School System will be affected for possibly the next four years.
For example, if a student was a freshman at the Downing Clark Center, and not formally withdrawn from the school system, that student will be coded as a drop out for the next four years, decreasing the graduation rate for the school system for the next four years, according to Cardoza.
Though graduation rates are lower with the new four-year formula, Gordon County Schools and Calhoun City Schools graduation rates are among the highest in the northwest region of the state.