Georgia finds itself near the very bottom of the list when it comes to high school graduation based on the 2010-2011 academic year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Georgia has a 67 percent overall high school graduation rate. This is just two up from the states with the lowest graduation rates, New Mexico with 63 percent, and Nevada with 62 percent. Georgia’s disappointing ranking shines a light on old issues that have been addressed, but not yet been resolved. Among the long time problems include high dropout rates, the homeless student population, low graduation of students with disabilities, poor graduation of students speaking limited English, a lack of parent participation and growing public school apathy.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education dumped previous “flawed measurement formulas” for determining the rate of graduation among the nation’s high school seniors. On Monday it released the first-ever state-by-state rundown of four-year high school graduation rates. The measurement for determining a state’s graduation rate was based solely on a common, more rigorous guideline that made standard, similar and across the board comparisons, and cut out opportunity for misrepresentation.
Click here to view all 50 states’ ranking and breakdown by ethic population, children with disabilities, students with limited English proficient, and economically disadvantage students.
The Department of Education is also requiring that the new graduation rates be a key element of accountability in measuring the effectiveness of schools. In a statement on Monday, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “By using this new measure, states will be more honest in holding schools accountable and ensuring that students succeed. Ultimately, these data will help states target support to ensure more students graduate on time, college and career ready.”
So with this goal in mind, it is time for Georgia educators, parents and community stakeholders to take responsibility of the greatest resource of the future, the student of today. There must be a true effort to reach all students and make graduation not only a desirable goal, but one that is actually attainable by all students. This wake-up call should galvanize schools and communities. This is not the time to hold heads low, but time to stand up for student success, get motivated about the education effort, and value public education as a tool for a better economy.