FORSYTH COUNTY — Local and state school officials often highlight their goal to prepare Georgia students for college and careers. If graduating high school is an indicator of readiness for the next level, then Forsyth County is on the right track.
All high schools in the local system increased their graduation rates for 2015, with Forsyth Central marking the largest percentage increase of the five traditional public schools, according to results released by the Georgia Department of Education.
Central saw 6.5 percent more students graduate in 2015 (89 percent) than in 2014 (82.5 percent) and has increased its graduation rate every year since 2012. The rate marked the 188th best in the state. The class of 2015 had 364 graduates.
“We are very pleased to see the significant increase in our graduation rate,” Principal Mitch Young said. “The hard work being put in by teachers, counselors, parents and staff to help get our kids across the stage is paying off.
“However, until we get all of our students successfully graduated, we will not relax.”
The iAchieve Virtual Academy saw the largest overall percentage increase in the district after recording a 25.8 percent change in graduation rates. Last year, 67.7 percent of the class walked across the stage, while 93.5 percent, or 29 of 31 students, did this year.
Lambert had the highest graduation rate in the county, at 98.2 percent, which was 14th best in the state.
South Forsyth’s rate of 96.3 percent marked an increase of 2.3 percent from last year and was the state’s 35th best. South had 570 graduates.
West Forsyth graduated 95.4 percent of its class, or 516 students, which ranked 37 in the state.
North Forsyth awarded diplomas to 499 students, which represented a 91.1 percent graduating rate, or 121st in the state.
District level scores
As a school system, overall scores increased from 90.3 to 94 percent. The 3.7 percent change made Forsyth County Schools the system with the highest rate among Georgia’s 25 districts with more than a 1,000-student graduating class and among metro Atlanta’s county school districts.
“We are thrilled again to have the highest district graduation rate in metro Atlanta. Our rates increased at all schools, which significantly impacted our district rate,” said School Superintendent Jeff Bearden.
“This achievement is the result of 13 years of teachers and support staff working with parents and community members to support every child in our district.
Forsyth County’s rate was the 10th best in the state.
“Over the past three years, we have increased our overall graduation rate by 6.2 percent as a district, and we are still striving to have 100 percent of our students receive a high school diploma,” Bearden said.
State level scores
Statewide, 78.8 percent of students graduated, marking a 6.3 percent increase from 2014.
“The 2015 graduation rate shows that our schools are working harder and smarter than ever to ensure our students receive their diploma, something that affords them the opportunity to move on to postsecondary education, the military or directly into a meaningful career,” said State School Superintendent Richard Woods.
“I expect we will continue to see the graduation rate increase as we provide more personalized graduation plans with multiple paths to graduation.”
This is the fifth year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using the adjusted cohort rate, which is required by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to the state education department, the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman. It is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers.
Georgia’s former calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate.
This year’s graduating class is the first not required to take the Georgia High School Gradation Test in order to receive a regular diploma.
The requirement was repealed during the 2015 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly.