FORSYTH COUNTY -- Graduation data released Tuesday by the Georgia Department of Education show two high schools in Forsyth County increased their rates from 2015 to 2016.
Lambert and Forsyth Central high schools both graduated seniors at a higher rate this May than they did last year, with Lambert’s 98.7 percent rate leading the district and Central’s 91.6 percent marking the largest increase.
Lambert graduated 685 of its 694-senior class in 2016 — the eighth-highest rate in Georgia — up from 98.2 percent in 2015.
Central saw 396 of its 431 seniors walk across the stage.
Central Principal Mitch Young said while he is “thrilled” the school on Elm Street in Cumming broke the 90 percent mark — after increasing 10.9 percent from 89 percent in 2015 — there is always room for improvement.
“We are so excited to achieve this very important milestone, but recognize that we still have too many students not crossing the stage,” Young said. “The work of our students, teachers and support staff has been incredible, and this certainly encourages them to continue on.”
Young said until the graduate rate reaches 100 percent, they “won’t be entirely satisfied.”
Forsyth County School as a district decreased its overall rate from 94 in 2015 to 92.7 this year but still had the highest graduation rate among metro-Atlanta county school districts, as well as the highest rate in Georgia for districts that graduated more than 1,000 students.
The district rate — and every high school — scored above the state average of 79.2, which increased from 78.8 in 2015.
The state score is preliminary, according to the GADOE, due to “incomplete data from a few school districts,” including Fulton County, and will be updated when they receive the final data.
“I am extremely proud that all our high schools have increased their graduation rates over the past five years,” Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden said.
South Forsyth High has the second-highest rate in the district — their 95.2 percent rate is among the top 40 of more than 400 high schools in Georgia. In 2015, their rate was 96.3 percent.
Forsyth Virtual Academy almost doubled their number of graduates, a 46.8 percent increase since 2011, Bearden said.
The online high school — the only non-traditional high school in Forsyth scored by the state — gave diplomas to 25 of its 27 seniors for a 92.6 graduation rate, compared to 93.5 percent last year.
North Forsyth High graduated 86.9 percent of its seniors, compared to 91.1 percent last year, and West Forsyth High saw 92.8 percent of its seniors walk across the stage — their rate in 2015 was 95.4 percent.
State grad rate continues to climb
Statewide, students’ overall high school graduation rate rose for the fifth consecutive year.
“As part of VISION 2020, we have a goal of exceeding the national average graduation rate by the year 2020, ensuring that more students will receive a meaningful high school diploma that prepares them for a successful and productive future,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said.
VISION 2020 is a state strategic plan to concentrate on high-quality service and support for schools and districts, “so they’re able to offer a holistic education to each and every child in our state.”
This is the sixth year Georgia has calculated graduation rates using an adjusted cohort rate, which is now required by the U.S. Department of Education.
The four-year adjusted cohort 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 transfers.
Previously, the rate was calculated based solely upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to complete high school.
All states now calculate their graduation rate using the same formula, though each state can still set its own requirements what it takes to earn a diploma.
According to the GADOE, Georgia “still has some of the highest requirements in the nation for students to graduate with a regular diploma.”