Graduation rates information released – APS up to 58.6% from 50.9%


The GA Department of Education released the graduation rate data yesterday and the Atlanta Public School graduation rate increased from 50.9% to 58.6% – an increase of 7.7 points. Topping the list are  the Early College at Carver with 98.7%, Grady HS with 84.36% and North Atlanta HS with 80.2% graduation rates. See the press release and detailed data here.

The chart below is a comparison of the four-year graduation rate for each of the high schools and, in certain cases, include the “small schools” that make up the high schools at Carver, Washington South Atlanta and Therrel. Additionally, the graduation rates for the demographic data is also shown.

Grad rates 2013 four year 

Problems with Prior Year Data – It is important to note that the methodology for determining graduation rates was standardized by the US DOE and required that all freshmen students be tracked through graduation (called a cohort). When the standardized method was introduced, schools had to go back and identify the cohort that composed the 9th grade class and then track what had happened to every student. Those involved in the process called it a “nightmare” and the numbers for 2012 are not considered to be very reliable. Additionally, the 2013 numbers may still have some “tracking problems” as well, but it is likely that they are a much better indicator than the 2012 information.

However, what is important is that the data indicates an upward trend and that the graduation rates – while still too low – are not nearly as bad as previously thought.

In addition, below is a chart indicating progress across demographic lines. Again, the same problems as noted above exist, but the trend information is generally positive.

Grad rates 2013 four year - demo trends

It is always important to have the data and a point of measurement for the reasons captured in the following quote:

“Perhaps what you measure is what you get. More likely, what you measure is all you’ll get. What you don’t (or can’t) measure is lost” – H. Thomas Johnson

The data now begins to provide guidance on where special attention needs to be targeted, where resources should be allocated and where the most at-risk students are. Simply having reliable data provides a point of reference from which incrementally improvements can be measured and tracked. This is critically important information for budget resource allocations and for assessing the performance of several of the special programs including the Early Intervention Program, Remedial Education, Exceptional Children, English Learners and certain student service programs. 

There is a lot of good information here, but one key piece of data that is missing that would give us a far better understanding of the data and that would provide directions for instituting action plans for better results. While we know the percentages of graduation rates for the demographic components of the cohort, the numerical demographic composition of the cohort has not been released.

I am attempting to get that information now from the GA DOE and will update the information when received.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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