New Formula Puts Decatur Schools In State Top 10 For Graduation Rates

CSD's grad rate stayed the same, but many systems saw big drops.

The has an 88.4 percent graduation rate under a new formula mandated by the state department of education and the federal government.

That's good news for Decatur because the new formula hurt the state as a whole and many schools and school systems.

Georgia, for instance, now has a grad rate of 67.4 percent, compared 80 percent under the old forumla. The DeKalb County system grad rate dropped to 58.65 percent rate.

The new way of counting didn't hurt Decatur at all. Under the old formula, the Decatur system had a graduation rate of 88.4 percent, said Thomas Van Soelen, the associate superintendent.

The new rate put the system at eighth place in the state in graduation rates. The top systems, in descending order, are: Chickamauga City (97.44 percent), Trion City (95.88), Bremen City (93.18), Oconee (91.57), Rabun (90.40), Jefferson City (90.11), Union (88.69) Decatur City (88.40), Towns (88.37) Wheeler (87.50).

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said states have used different methods to calculate graduation rates. The new method means everybody is using the same measuring stick. The AJC said,

The new formula requires all states to track each student from ninth grade and to set their school, district and state graduation rates based on how many of those students receive a diploma within four years. It replaces a formula that Georgia has used since 2003 and that critics say undercounted dropouts and was grossly misleading.

Van Soelen noted the new way penalizes systems with "five-year seniors." CSD doesn't have many of them, he said.

One oddity about the report from the Georgia Department of Education: It gave the system as a whole an 88.4 percent graduation rate and Decatur High, the system's only high school, an 89.39 percent rate.

Van Soelen said nobody is sure why the numbers aren't the same. The administration has asked the GDOE for an explanation.

In a school system press release, Decatur Principal Lauri McKain said:

"This rate is particularly exciting given the fact that we have a stricter graduation policy in Decatur than is required per the state policy. All students complete a senior project, and are expected to take four units of social studies, rather than three, as is required elsewhere. We also ensure all students take at least two years of the same foreign language whereas that is only encouraged elsewhere. Knowing we are leading the state while maintaining a higher set of expectations gives this achievement even more significance."

Here are the new grad rates for metro Atlanta school systems: Atlanta City (51.96 percent), Buford City (82.32), Cherokee (74.82), Clayton (51.48), Cobb (73.35), Coweta (74.85), DeKalb (58.65), Fayette (78.23), Forsyth (86.27), Fulton (70.05), Gwinett (67.56), Henry (72.35), Marietta City (56.01).

The AJC noted some schools were really hurt by the new formula, saying,

In metro Atlanta, some schools saw much wider swings in their graduation rates as a result of the change in formula. They included: Cross Keys in DeKalb County, which went from 85.1 percent to 48.34 percent, Riverdale High School in Clayton, which went from 82.7 percent ot 53.58 percent and Meadowcreek High in Gwinnett, which went from 77.6 percent to 48.54 percent.

For more details go to the Georgia Department of Education webpage.



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