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County graduation rates still among best
LambertGrad 5 web

Forsyth County Schools graduated its students at a higher rate than all of the 20 largest school districts in 2014. They earned this title in back-to-back years.

The district-wide graduation rate increased to 90.3 percent – a 0.8 percent increase from last year – and flew past the state’s average rate of 72.5 percent.

“We are excited to see our overall graduation rate increase to above 90 percent,” said Jeff Bearden, FCS superintendent. “I am thankful to our teachers, staff members, parents and business partners [who] have worked with us to ensure that more students are receiving high school diplomas. We are committed to reaching our district goal that all Forsyth County students will leave our schools with a high school diploma.”

Forsyth County has the ninth-largest school district in Georgia, with a graduating class of 2,517 in 2014. Among the 19 other largest districts, graduation rates ranged from 58.9 percent to 89.5 percent, according to information gathered from the Georgia Department of Education, or GADOE.

Compared to the entire state, FCS marked the 12th highest graduation rate. Most of the districts sitting higher had much smaller graduation class sizes, ranging from 47 to 483. The highest graduation rate in the state was 98 percent (Trion City graduated 97 of 99 students).

Getting down to a school level, each of the traditional high schools passed the state’s rate. According to an FCS press release, Lambert High School’s graduation rate for 2014 was the highest among the state’s largest high schools (97.7). South Forsyth High School came in second at 94 percent.

North Forsyth High School had the highest percent increase (4.9) in one year. South and Forsyth Central high school’s have increased graduation rates for the past three years.

“We are so pleased with the increase in our graduation rate,” said Beth Hebert, North’s principal. “This is a result of a united effort between our teachers, counselors, graduation coach, administrators and community to make sure all of our students stay on track and graduate.”

State-wide, Georgia’s public high school graduation rate has increased for the third consecutive year, rising a total of 5.1 percentage points since 2011, according to the GADOE.

“This is something to celebrate,” State School Superintendent John Barge said. “When we see the graduation rate consistently trending upward and when we see a greater percentage of our students graduating from our public high schools, we are talking about individual students and individual dreams. We’re talking about students whose options and futures expanded when they obtained a high-school diploma. So we are celebrating their victories and turning toward the future and the work necessary to make those dreams a reality for an even higher percentage of students.”

This is the fourth year Georgia has calculated the rate using a new formula known as the adjusted cohort rate, which is now required by the U.S. Department of Education. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman.

The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for transfers. Previously, the state defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate.

“While all states now calculate the graduation rate using the same formula, what each state requires to earn a diploma varies dramatically across the country,” Barge said. “Georgia has one of the highest sets of standards in the country for students, so our graduation rate typically doesn’t look very good when compared to the nation – but it’s simply not an apples-to-apples comparison. What we’re ultimately concerned about in Georgia is that more and more students earn a high school diploma, and we’re seeing that happen each year.”