Decatur High School Graduation Rate Ranks in Georgia’s Top 10

The City Schools of Decatur sent out this press release this morning…

Georgia Releases New Four-year High School Graduation Rate

City Schools of Decatur Among Top Ten School Districts

Decatur High School Among Top Seven Percent

Decatur, GA (2012)- Adhering to a 2008 update to federal education regulations, the Georgia Department of Education released the new, four-year public high school graduation rate — 67.4%. The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, will allow states to uniformly compare graduation rates across the nation.

An 88.40% graduation rate for City Schools of Decatur places the district in the top ten of all Georgia School districts for graduation rate. “Once again, our students and staff are proving that their hard work is paying off,” said Superintendent Dr. Phyllis Edwards. “Our district is continuing to live up to our vision that City Schools of Decatur will be one of the top ten community school districts in the nation.”

Decatur High School’s cohort graduation rate is 89.39% placing DHS in the top seven percent of all Georgia High Schools. “This rate is particularly exciting given the fact that we have a stricter graduation policy in Decatur than is required per the state policy,” said Decatur High School principal, Lauri McKain. “All students complete a senior project, and are expected to take four units of social studies, rather than three, as is required elsewhere. We also ensure all students take at least two years of the same foreign language whereas that is only encouraged elsewhere. Knowing we are leading the state while maintaining a higher set of expectations gives this achievement even more significance.”

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

Momentum for all states to produce a comparable four-year graduation rate began in 2005 with the leadership of the National Governors’ Association. Governors of all 50 states made a commitment to a common method for calculating each state’s high school graduation rate by signing the Graduation Counts Compact.

City Schools of Decatur Among Top Ten School Districts in Georgia

1 Chickamauga City 97.44
2 Trion City 95.88
3 Bremen City 93.18
4 Oconee 91.57
5 Rabun 90.40
6 Jefferson City 90.11
7 Union 88.69
8 Decatur City 88.40
9 Towns 88.37
10 Wheeler 87.50

For more information see the GaDOE Press Release.

24 thoughts on “Decatur High School Graduation Rate Ranks in Georgia’s Top 10”

    1. I know. That would be nice to know. And being in the top ten school districts in Georgia (# 40–something in the U.S. for just about any educational measure except preK programs), does not translate into anything close to top 10 school districts in the U.S. BUT, my new mantra is that we aren’t quite as good as we think we are, but AT LEAST WE DON’T CHEAT! You can trust our data. We don’t always divide or multiply correctly but that’s easy to fix if our data are sound. And visions are good. If we just said “Let’s be better than Clayton County”, it wouldn’t be a vision.

      Eventually the vision maybe achieved–if the City of Decatur becomes so expensive that no one but the wealthy are able to live here so scores on all measures float up with the income levels and the achievement gap is solved.

      1. I am sure everyone who reads this blog realizes there is a lot more than an isolated test score to being a top school

  1. Congratulations to the students, parents, teachers, and administrators of the City Schools of Decatur!

    How impressive is this 88.40% graduation rate? Compare it to the DeKalb County School District (58.65%) and its nearby Druid Hills High School (62.13%), or the state graduation rate (67.44%).

    Local control rules!

    1. When I read 88.4% graduation, my first thought was, wow, I didn’t think it would be that low. I sort of assumed our great school system would have something like a 99.9% graduation rate. Obviously, I’m not a parent; I don’t follow such things and didn’t know the national average was 75%. And I guess I don’t really have any idea what the graduation rate was when/where I attended high school. I don’t remember more than 1 person specifically who dropped out (class of 100) and 1 who disappeared for most of senior year, reappearing at finals 8 months pregnant with twins. Of course, that doesn’t mean there were not others who I just thought moved or something.

      Anyway, I’m certainly happy that the efforts of the students, parents, teachers and administrators deliver a way above average result.

      Does anyone here know/remember the graduation rate from their high school? Just curious.

    2. Shouldn’t the graduation rate be higher? 88% can seem high if it’s misperceived as a grade, like a “B” but it’s not a grade, or a college acceptance rate, or a high SAT rate. It’s an indication that 12% or ~22 students (assuming a class of ~180) did not complete complete the minimum standards for high school graduation. Shouldn’t that be zero or near zero in a school with special support for students who need it, school counselors and psychologists, good data to track student needs, reduction of the achievement gap? I would like to understand the DHS non-graduation rate better. Is it mostly due to true dropouts–kids who just walked away from high school and refused to return? That’s a different issue from kids who stayed in school but just couldn’t pass the minimum number of courses and any other minimum requirements needed to graduate. Or what else plays into nongraduation? Disciplinary issues? Psychosocial issues?

      I am glad that our 12% non-graduation rate is declining over time but not particularly reassured by the fact that it’s lower than the U.S. rate of 24% or and not at all reassured by it’s being lower than the Georgia rate of 33%. It’s analagous to teen suicide–one suicide is too many and I am not reassured by the fact that it is less than the rate of suicides somewhere else.

      This isn’t a dig at CSD but a note that a 12% nongraduation rate is not a cause for celebration but a call to keep on improving until nongraduation is rare.

      1. I understand where you’re coming from, AHID, but think it’s a recipe for constant disappointment. Community achievements should never be measured against perfection because perfection will never be attained. Anywhere.

        Instead, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to measure achievement against what can reasonably be expected when people need to work together with limited resources. Which is to say, other communities of people. As Dave points out, we measure up pretty nicely when compared to some of our neighbors. That’s worth celebrating.

        I’m not saying we should ever rest on our laurels and stop working to do better. But who wants to do that when you can’t even take a moment and feel a small sense of satisfaction for the things you *have* accomplished?

        1. In my heart of hearts, I’m afraid that we haven’t “accomplished” much of anything but just have a lower proportion of at risk students. That’s why I want to understand more about what nongraduation at DHS means. But I AM reassured that we were not relying on inflated graduation rates but can believe our improvement over time.

      2. “It’s analagous to teen suicide…”

        You have GOT to be kidding me. Are you listening to yourself?

        1. Not a good analogy? Substitute something else that shouldn’t be occurring hardly at all, i.e. a rate of 12% is not acceptable. Cases of salmonella at a restaurant? Infidelity in a marriage? Cars manufactured with a brake defect? Poor hygiene during surgery?

          1. This is a ridiculous conversation. I know I started it — and I stand by my opinion — but we are so far apart that it’s pointless to continue.

          2. OK, it’s not in me to just sit down and be quiet.

            I agree with you that salmonella, poor surgical hygiene, dropping out of high school, teen suicide, and marital infidelity all represent things for which we should strive for zero incidence. However, these things are not all equally grave, and that’s a problem I have with this kind of discussion when something is being treated as if it’s the ultimate calamity. Of course it’s a bad thing when a kid fails to graduate from high school (unless there are extenuating circumstances that make another route preferable or more feasible…moer on that in a minute). But it’s not the same as that kid doing away with herself; or getting an infection during routine surgery and dying (as happened to a relative of mine). It’s not nearly as tragic as either of those. On the other hand, it’s worse than a mild case of salmonella. Ultimately, it may or may not be worse than being cheated on by a spouse, it depends on a bunch of things. Which brings me to my other point…

            By your own admission, you don’t know exactly what teh graduation rate represents. I don’t, either. What I do know is that it’s a statistic, and as such, it both illuminates and obfuscates reality, which is actually made up of several hundred individual students with several hundred unique lives and circumstances influencing and probably circumscribing, to an extent, their choices (or lack thereof). That is why I think getting overly exercised about it is a mistake. And putting it on a level with some of the truly grave possibilities you mentioned just doesn’t make sense. A little perspective, please!

            And I agree with Scott, who expressed himself more gracefully and more graciously than I did.

            1. When looking at the 1940 Census records that came out week, one of the questions was how many years of high school did you complete. I was initially a little surprised that my grandmother (who was born in 1911) had only completed one year of high school. I never knew that. And from my memories of her, she seemed like an adult of above average intelligence and success in life.

              But, of course, it was a way different time back then. Not only was not completing high school the norm, but it was especially true for girls.

              But the point being, that it is a rather recent thing for it to be the norm for all children to complete high school – much less go to college. And even today only about 20% even complete college and get a bachelors degree. A much smaller percentage get a graduate degree of some kind.

              So, while in a perfect world, all of our kids would complete high school and go to college, it is not nearly a perfect world. Looking at the numbers, it appears we’re doing a pretty good job.

    1. This deserves its own thread once we have a little more Renfroe-specific info, e.g. names of students!

    2. Here is my bold prediction…THIS group will have a 100% graduation rate!! Way to go kids!

  2. I hope none of the teachers that do the hard work each day read this and see how some in our community think this doesn’t demonstrate an accomplishment. Does anyone realize that 11-12% of the population at DHS is special education? Does anyone realize some read at the 3rd grade level? Does anyone realize that it might take some students, especially those in multigenerational poverty homes longer than four years to graduate? Does anyone realize how different the DHS demographics are compared to the other districts with similar graduation rates?

    Please, take pause. Congratulate the educators in our city. I am certain NO ONE is resting on their laurels around here. I am certain NO ONE is saying, “ok, we’ve done enough.” The dedication of our educators is what makes our district stand out and this IS a noteworthy rate given the diverse backgrounds and socioeconomics in our city.

  3. I agree we should be congratulating teachers (thanks Wow), and I throw out another group to congratulate– all the parents and other community volunteers who spend their time, efforts and donated funds/services to help make CSD a continually improving service organization. I agree with AHID regarding CSD’s lower(ing) population of at risk kids as having an impact on our comparative stats in the Metro area, but I think the concentration of efforts of many in the community and small school district have helped improve CSD for all at a great pace.

    Couple of things- 1. No one has mentioned that CSD was tops in Metro Atlanta (Wheeler after CSD). 2. Some alluded to it, but from other articles I saw that CSD’s grad stats didn’t change much at all with the new calcs, unlike some other districts with “stats” that drastically shifted with the uniform calculation.

    Finally, one item not mentioned yet impacting graduation rate– some kids move around and switch schools at an astounding rate due to family circumstances– I heard a talk from metro educators that shocked me with the stats of how many kids in their class moved in/out during the school year. I think I’ve heard that the new calc method makes districts responsible for making sure students enrolled in another school before taking that student out of their nongrad pot- may be hard to do with so much movement. Coming from a small town, with classmates that were almost always the same, I hadn’t realized that was happening to the extent it does in a larger metro area. I’d be curious at the classroom stability in CSD vs. other metro districts- I think it would correlate to the graduation rates.

  4. Big article on front page of AJC today re graduation rates. I still say that it is possible to get the DHS rate as high as the high schools that have rates over 90%. But it will take putting resources into helping the individual children at risk with their unique and individual problems. It’s more fun to work on the program or curriculum level but sometimes some high intensity elbow grease on the actual problem spots is called for.

    1. The dreaded “undefined” got me on this post before I finished. I was trying to add that it is important to know–and CSD may know this already but just hasn’t shared it widely–what are the factors associated with our non graduation rate. Just unmotivated or unhappy at school? Pregnancy? (Used to be an issue but I don’t believe it’s as much of one now) Failing required courses? Failing end-of-course tests? Kids moving into our system? Kids who’ve been with us all along? Is this the solution mostly at the high school level? Or do we need to do something earlier to improve our instruction for certain types of learners? Sometimes a failure to learn is more about a failure to teach certain kinds of learners. And whatever is learned may not just help those who are not graduating but also those who are graduating but not reaching their academic potential. A rising tide raises all ships or whatever the saying is….

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