You don’t ever really expect a public high school to have a graduation rate of 100 percent, but Lambert High was pushing perfection with the 98.8 percent graduation rate recorded in 2013 according to data released last week by the state.
Not too shabby.
In fact, the entire Forsyth County school system can take pride in seeing rates climb up a couple of percentage points from the previous year, culminating in an overall four-year graduation rate of about 89.5 percent.
As usual, the local system’s numbers were dramatically better than the statewide average, but even there Georgia saw a statewide gain of nearly 2 percent, pushing the total rate to 71.5. Over a two year period the state’s numbers have increased by more than 4 percentage points.
Seeing 71 percent of freshmen graduate four years after starting high school is certainly nothing for the state to brag about, but the numbers do reflect steady gains over the past three years of calculating graduation success by a standard, and more rigid, formula that was used previously.
The current formula calculates the percentage of students who graduate within four years of starting high school as a freshman. It is now used in all 50 states, bringing a degree of standardization to the comparison that did not previously exist.
Forsyth had the highest graduation rate of any county system in the metro Atlanta area, and Lambert’s graduation percentage was the best in the state for a nonmagnet school.
Despite the positive numbers locally, the graduation data shows a lot of work that still needs to be done through Georgia. The four big core metro area counties – DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton – had rates ranging from 59.9 to 76.5, and the Atlanta city school system saw 58.6 of students graduate. Even if those numbers are improving, they don’t bode well for the overall effectiveness of public education in the state’s largest metro and suburban areas.
Much has been made in recent years of the need to find different ways to assure student success so as to maximize the probability of graduation after four years of high school. Many programs geared specifically to improving graduation rates have been implemented and proven successful, but the statewide numbers show how much still needs to be done.
The complexity of the modern workplace and the world economy is such that the lack of a high school degree makes long-term success almost impossible. When you consider that the current numbers indicate that statewide nearly three students out of 10 fail to earn a degree in four years, the implications are obvious.
For Forsyth, the numbers are great and continue to improve. For Georgia, improvement is happening, but there’s still a long way to go.