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Terrell leads Albany area schools in cohort graduation rates

Ufot Inyang is the assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Dougherty County School System.

Ufot Inyang is the assistant superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for Dougherty County School System.

ALBANY, Ga. — The State Department of Education on Tuesday released Georgia's most recent public high school cohort graduation rates, which included a surprise locally.

While the state's graduation rate rose more than two percentage points from the previous year — up from 67.4 percent to 69.7 percent in 2012 — Terrell County unexpectedly led the five-county metro Albany area with an 87.34 percent rate.

Dougherty County's cohort graduation rate is 58.95 percent, Baker County is 75, Calhoun is 74.36, Lee County is 76.51, Mitchell County is 75.31 and Worth County is 72.27. Dougherty, Lee, Worth, Baker and Terrell comprise the Albany Metropolitan Statistical Area.

This is the second year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using a new formula — known as the adjusted cohort rate — as required by the U.S. Department of Education.

Based on an estimated cohort graduation rate of 58.6 percent in 2009, the rate of students getting diplomas has risen by 11 percentage points since 2009.

The cohort rate was applied to 2009's graduating class to help create a trend line, though the state used a different calculation then.

The primary difference is defining the cohort. The four-year high school graduation rate defines the cohort when the student becomes a freshman, and the rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years of becoming a freshman.

The current graduation rate (which began with ninth-graders in 2007) defines the cohort upon graduation, which includes students who take more than four years to graduate from high school.

"I have yet to see the new numbers, but all I can say is, 'Wow,'" Terrell County High School Principal Doug Bell said. "I think what we're doing is working. When kids come up in the ninth grade, we set up 'care teams' for each graduation level. We make sure we keep the kids in school, we check their attendance, we set up parent-teachers meetings and work as hard as we can to keep them in school. We know what our kids are doing and it's working."

Terrell County Curriculum Director Martha Nicholson echoed Bell's comments.

"The high school is doing an excellent job of keeping the kids accounted for, keeping them together and in school," she said. "They are paying close attention to the individual students and making sure they are staying on track. We feel great that the hard work is paying off."

In the Dougherty County School system, Westover led the way with a 74.23 percent cohort graduation rate, followed by Albany at 66.31, Dougherty at 45.85 and Monroe at 45.66.

"It is important for students and parents to know that new data reporting results should not be compared with past results as the methods for reporting make them very different," said Ufot Inyang, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. "A good example of this is the new computation for high school graduation rate.

"The new graduation rate does not allow for students who move from our system after enrolling in ninth grade if their out-of-district new school does not inform us of their enrollment," he said. "These 'transferred' students count against our new graduation rate, even if we know they moved outside of Georgia.

"The new rate also does not allow for students who get a year behind in their studies; when they do complete requirements for graduation they no longer count as a graduate because they did not graduate with the class with whom they began ninth grade."

Inyang pointed out this year's graduation rates as an example.

"The impact of the change in computation can be seen in this year's graduation rates. In 2011, the system had improved the rate over the previous five years from 57.5 percent in 2006 to 72.5 percent in 2011 using the previous computation method," Inyang said. "In 2011, 647 students graduated with regular diplomas from our four high schools. That year the computation method changed graduation rate was reported at 57.5 percent under the new method. Same number of students graduating, 14 percent difference in reported rate."

Still, Inyang said that the numbers were a source of concern.

"Results are results, however, and we are not going to make excuses for under-performing students or schools," said Inyang. "We are going to work extremely hard to improve them."

Comments

MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

ONE QUESTION: IF THE WORD "COHORT" WAS REMOVED WOULD THE SAME NUMBER OF STUDENTS GRADUATE?

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Terry.Lewis 1 year, 7 months ago

The point is the computations are based on a group who begins the ninth grade and graduates together.

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MRKIA 1 year, 7 months ago

THANKS, IT JUST DAWNED ON ME. I GET IT NOW.

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Amazed2 1 year, 7 months ago

In Dougherty County about 40% Graduate into a Gang by the 9 the grade.

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oldster 1 year, 7 months ago

Congratulations to Terrel County Schools. There is an upper echelon of schools in the area that are around the 75% mark and then there are those who are not performing well at all. Terrel, Baker, Calhoun and Mitchell are areas where the economy is not particularly robust, but they performed well, therefore the schools in Dougherty that did not perform well can't use the economy as an excuse. There is definitely opportunity for improvement.

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Cohort graduation rate should be near 90%. Terrell Counties graduation rate is there now, proving it can be done. 45% is nearly criminally negligent. A fraudulent waste of taxpayer money and goals. I wonder what "we, the parents of the Dougherty County School System" Thelma Johnson feels about this. It looks like Terrell county parents are twice as good as Dougherty county parents.

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waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

Nothing personal directed at anyone, but I did notice a hugh shift downward in the Title 1 numbers for Terrell a few years ago when the State was looking really hard at those numbers. I have to wonder if this isn't some gamesmanship? Where do these folks place on the Vo-Tech testing for remedial classes? Never mind the college level? Now I don't daily deal with these students, but I have interviewed some for jobs in the past. Sometimes I wonder what a High School diploma really represents these days. StrongA CERTIFICATE OF ACHIEVEMENT, OR A CERTIFICATE OF ATTENDANCE?Strong

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