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Graduation rates plummet under new formula

Westover had the highest percentage in the district with 65 percent, officials say.

New Formula Graduation Rates

Westover, 65.44 percent

Albany High, 54.46 percent

Dougherty Comprehensive, 48.83 percent

Monroe Comprehensive, 47.4 percent

ALBANY, Ga. — Under a new formula that measures graduation rate among students who graduate high school within four years, the Dougherty County School System’s high school graduation rate dropped to 54 percent, according to State Superintendent John Barge.

The data, which was released Tuesday morning and reported on www.albanyherald.com, shows that the state graduation rate dropped to 67 percent under the new formula, which Barge said Tuesday was a more uniform and accurate measure of student performance.

“The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school,” Barge said in a prepared statement issued at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

“I believe that in order to tackle a problem you have to have honest and accurate data,” he said. “We will be able to use this new data as a baseline to see how our important initiatives are impacting graduation rates in the future.”

The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, will allow states to uniformly compare graduation rates across the nation, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

“The computation method for Georgia’s high school graduates has been changed to create a nationally accepted method of reporting graduates,” Dougherty County School Superintendent Joshua Murfree said. “This number reflects the same number of students that was reported in the fall at 76.7 percent for our system. There are a number of reasons the new computation reduces the number. These include students who take more than four years to graduate never count as a graduate. Also, students who withdraw between 9th and 12th grade and don’t enroll in another Georgia public school system or are otherwise unaccounted for count against the last system in which they are registered.

“An interesting piece of the new method shows that graduation rates in Georgia have improved more than when computed with the older method.”

Historically, states have calculated graduation rates using various methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next. The new calculation means that the graduation rate may appear to be dramatically different, even if the number of students who actually graduate hasn’t changed.

In Dougherty County, the rate fell to 54.12 percent. Drilling down to the high-school level shows that Westover was the best-performing school in the district, yielding a 65 percent grad rate. Albany High was the next best at 54.46 percent, followed by Dougherty Comprehensive High School at 48.8 percent. Monroe was at the bottom of the district, graduating 47.4 percent of its four-year students.

Under the previous state formula, 2011 graduation results for Dougherty County high schools were dramatically different.

The system as a whole was sitting at 76.7 percent, a change from Tuesday’s report of 22.7 percentage points.

Westover’s graduation rate was at 87 percent — a difference of 22 percentage points — Albany High was at 68.5 percent — a difference of 14 points — Dougherty was at 73.4 percent — a change of 24.6 points — and Monroe was at 73.4 — a difference of 26 points.

According to the state Department of Education, the primary difference between the two formulas is the new formula calculates the graduation rate based on the number of students who graduate with their cohort group within four years, starting when they are freshmen and concluding when they finish their senior year.

While sobering, the numbers will temporarily improve for the 2012 graduating class, thanks to a move by Barge to seek permission from the U.S. Department of Education to use a five-year scale for the upcoming graduating class, rather than the four-year scale that was released Tuesday morning.

“We know that not all students are the same and not all will graduate from high school in four years, so we asked for the U.S. Department of Education’s permission to use a five-year cohort graduation rate for federal accountability purposes,” Barge said. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure each child will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and a career, regardless of how long it takes.”

Neighboring school districts also saw their grad rates drop under the formula.

In Lee County, the new graduation rate is at 65.9 percent, down from 82.8 percent under the old formula.

“We were somewhat surprised by the drop,” Lee County School Superintendent Larry Walters said. “All I can say is we work very hard to make Lee County Schools the best we can be. But right now I really can’t explain the logic behind (the new rating system).”

Worth County was listed with a 65.4 percent grad rate Tuesday after previously having had a 70.2 percent rate.

Terrell County had a 75.7 percent rate under the new formula and an 81 percent rate without.

Baker County had the worst graduation rate in the five-county Albany Metro area with 41.3 percent of its students graduating within four years. That number is down from 44.4 percent under the old formula.

Mitchell County saw its grad rate drop from 92.4 percent to 64.3 percent, and Calhoun County fell to 60.5 percent from 72.2 percent.

Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell contributed to this story.

Comments

VSU 2 years ago

No surprise there!

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waltspecht 2 years ago

How does a change in a calculation formula justify this? Either the students graduated, or they didn't. What this seems to be saying is that the numbers had previously been padded to show false results. I am no math major, but I think it would be simple. You had X number start school. Plus or minus transfers. Attrition due to health or death. Then you were left with Y graduating. That should give you your true number of drop outs, and failures versus those actually graduating.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years ago

I think the key point in the new calculation is "graduated in 4 years". If you flunk a grade and have to repeat, you bring down the number under this standard. Of course also notice that the new calculation enables equal state-to-state comparisons so there is the benefit.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years ago

Exactly, Ruby. The old formula apparently took the graduating class number and divided it by the number of students who got diplomas and that was your graduating rate.

The new formula takes incoming Freshmen and puts them on the clock. If it takes them longer than four years to graduate, then they aren't counted towards the graduation rate.

At least that's how it appears to work on the State Board of Ed website.

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tywebb 2 years ago

in georgia, those kids are on a 5 year clock, not 4 year, thanks to permission from the US DoE. even the state super says we need to graduate ALL kids, regardless of how long it takes! We really like to push our kids to excel!

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Terry.Lewis 2 years ago

By the same token, say a kids screws up and flunks his 10th grade year, repeats and then goes on to graduate in 5 instead of 4 years. Should that person not count as a graduate?

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tywebb 2 years ago

with the waiver from the DoE, they will count as a graduate. BUT with as many 2nd, 3rd, 14th,(you get my point) chances as these kids get on classwork, PLUS free tutoring, PLUS teachers not being able to give lower than a 60 as a 9 weeks grade (not sure if this is ALL schools), summer school, there's no reason, except for being just flat-out sorry, that a kid shouldn't be able to graduate in 4 years!

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tywebb 2 years ago

To be fair, EVERY schools rate decreased, not just doco schools. The new formula follows a freshman through graduation. you would think that that would be for 4 years, but not here in Georgia! Our kids get 5 years, and eventually, maybe even more! Here's a quote from John Barge regarding the new standard:

“We know that not all students are the same and not all will graduate from high school in four years, so we asked for the U.S. Department of Education’s permission to use a five-year cohort graduation rate for federal accountability purposes,” said Superintendent Barge. “Ultimately, our goal is to ensure each child will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and a career, regardless of how long it takes.”

Now that's what I call making kids reach for the stars!!!!!! NOT

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options1 2 years ago

Lee Co.'s was lowered to 66%. Why wasn't that "breaking news" as well. I usually try not to get involved in these issues, but I'm really beginning to see why people believe some are out to destroy the city from within. I understand why you feel it's necessary, however, if we continue to use this tactic, we all will lose. (jobs will leave, won't come, those without customers don't by ads, those without jobs don't by papers, schools close kids have to go somewhere, maybe even Lee Co.) I promise you all, the smearing will not work, at least not for real change anyway. You have two board seats up this year, vote. It's a slow process but if done right, the city can be successful again; starting with truly educating "our kids".

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J.D._Sumner 2 years ago

It's listed in the story. We are the "Albany" Herald with the majority of our readers within Albany and Dougherty County so, we got that data first. We've updated the story with data from all of the school districts in our MSA.

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options1 2 years ago

Thanks JD for the update. It's just that I've seen this happen before. People are hoping that shame will cause change. That only works if the people you're trying to change have shame. In my opinion, the leaders really don't see a problem with what they're doing and therefore will continue. I suggest you guys set up some type of forum where the true citizens of change can come out and develop some real ideas to fix the city. People hiding behind their screen names both white and black using racially motivated tones is getting old and unproductive. Provide that opportunity for some positive discussions.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years ago

That's a great idea. I'll get to work on that.

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boyoboy 2 years ago

Terrell Co. has a 75.7 graduation rate? HaHaHaHaHaHaHa

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MRKIA 2 years ago

MISPRINT. 57.5 FOR TERRELL CO.

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boyoboy 2 years ago

I knew something had to be wrong.

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J.D._Sumner 2 years ago

Actually, according to the data from the state it's 75.79. Show me some alternative data and I'll change it. Until then, it stays.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

I wonder how it factors in summer school. I would be stretching it to say at least 50% have taken at least one summer school class and this distorted the percentage.

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chinaberry25 2 years ago

For your info Lee County has about 30% black and it is no longer an all white (almost) school. The difference is they are not able to bully the teachers to give them extra credit in order to pass. This is done all the time at DCSS. A written paper should not take the place of a failed test. Make them take the failed test over until they pass it.

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tywebb 2 years ago

how about they just keep the failed grade and suffer the consequences? Why do we have to give chance, after chance, after chance, etc? No wonder we can't keep up with europe! there's no incentive to do it right the first time!

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coachjohnson42 2 years ago

another racist comment......

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Shinedownfan 2 years ago

How is that racist? Chinaberry25 was just stating a fact. I have two white cars and one black truck in my driveway... guess that is a racist comment too.

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Somebody 2 years ago

another typical response from Da Korch...........

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AlbanyDad 2 years ago

So it the 30% blacks fault that Lee County is failing; yet another blame the black people moment!!! Just as Claire Hillard blamed two black men...it will never change until everyone stop blaming other people...srill say that was a redneck racist comment!!!

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Somebody 2 years ago

You said it, nobody else.

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LCparent 2 years ago

Actually, the difference is that they WON'T try to bully the teachers into doing that. They support their teachers and the jobs that they do!

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agirl_25 2 years ago

I am totally lost about the schools. Has there been a white flight over the years from Albany to Leesburg as far as schools go or has it been more to private schools? My kids never went to DoCo schools so I honestly don't know that much about them. Can you live in Albany and send your kids to Leesburg schools and pay tuition there?

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Cartman 2 years ago

The flight has been to both private and Lee County schools. Those who could not afford private, usually moved to Lee County. I am not sure about being able to pay tuition for an out of county student.

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agirl_25 2 years ago

I asked because I had friends in adjoining counties who told me they sent their kids to a county where they felt they got a better education and paid tuition, which they felt was well worth it. This was years ago tho and I don't know the situation now.

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firefly 2 years ago

No, Lee County requires you to prove residency before being able to attend school.

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Albanite 2 years ago

Its just restating the obvious. DOCO schools are terrible. To begin to fix this, we need a wholesale cleaning-out of every administrator, every school board official, and about 54.12 percent of the so-called teachers. The school board should resign today in well-deserved shame.

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MRKIA 2 years ago

FOR THE SCHOOL BOARD THE GRAD RATES SEEM TO BE PAR FOR THE COURSE CONSIDERING THE DYSFUNCTION THAT EXISTS. WAS EVERYONE EXPECTING A 85-95% GRAD RATE? DON'T EXPECT THINGS TO CHANGE THIS GENERATION AS IT TAKES A LONG TIME TO ERASE STUPID.

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coachjohnson42 2 years ago

(yawn) Its just another math formula...you can play with numbers anyway you want. You can twist numbers to make them say anything you want. Not a big story if you ask me because we already knew Albany Schools has serious problems.....

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TheBoss 2 years ago

Graduation rates will drop even more when Dougherty County puts 35 kids into the elementary grade classrooms. It may take a few years to see the effects but it will happen.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years ago

Dr. Murfree will fix this issue, please move back and assist him. He need friends like you.

Bubbavet_rureel

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VSU 2 years ago

And I hear that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are joining the "Hell's Angels" Motorcycle gang.

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MRKIA 2 years ago

NOT HARDLY. THEY MIGHT START A BLACK HELLS ANGELS THOUGH.

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MRKIA 2 years ago

BUBBAVET_ IS ACTUALLY DR. MURFREE. NOW CAN WE BE FRIENDS?

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tywebb 2 years ago

i had come to that conclusion a couple of months ago, too.

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MRKIA 2 years ago

YOU NOTICE HE DOESN'T WANT TO BE FRIENDS ANYMORE

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MRKIA 2 years ago

USUALLY FIXING SOMETHING RESULTS IN THAT SOMETHING BECOMING OPERABLE AND PERFORMING AS IT WAS DESIGNED BUT WHEN BUBBAVET_ SAYS DR. MURFREE WILL FIX IT DOES IT MEAN THE SAME AS FIXING A DOG OR CAT SO THAT NOTHING EVER COMES FROM IT?

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MRKIA 2 years ago

DR.BUBBA_VET MURFREE: FEEL FREE TO COME OUT OF THE CLOSET AT ANY TIME

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Trustbuster 2 years ago

The formulas are changing regarding the graduation rate under the new regime imposed from the almighty educrats at the Atlanta Twin Towers. Also Pres. Obama's Race to the Top is just another form of NCLB. The state often sets unrealistic goals and imposes them on local schools that can never meet them. Some of the schools in SW GA never got off the needs improvement list. Furthermore consider this folks if a child enters Albany High in the 9th grade and later transfers to another county high school and then drops out it is counted against the school he/she entered first not last. Is that fair? Absolutely not! We need more local control and more parental involvement.

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erudite 2 years ago

Perhaps determining what causes kids to stop going to school is the first step. Anyone can play the numbers game: if I earn 100,000$ and you earn nothing, the average is 50,000$. Not real.

Why are kids dropping out? Do they think there is no future? There are no jobs to train for in the area so there is no real reason to finish high school or go to college. Not everyone can be a nurse or a teacher; those markets will soon be gone.

How do we instill hope in our kids?

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tywebb 2 years ago

they drop out, i think, for a couple of reasons: 1. some classes actually make them do work and they are too lazy. 2. it's much easier to walk the streets all day than to sit in class and learn. 3. their relatives and friends did it, so why break the cycle 4. they can do more hunting, gang stuff, drug selling, etc. if they're not in school. 5. kinda like 3....they don't have anyone in the home encouraging them. 6. THEY ARE LAZY!!!!!!!!

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