Even if the state of Georgia is seeing new lows in their graduation rate, lows that plummet it nearly to the bottom of the educational rankings in the country, Fayette County has a lot to be happy about.
Even with the new federal reporting formula that calculates the graduation rate, which may be why Georgia is ranked at only 67 percent, Fayette County high schools are above that figure, even if you don’t take the figures with a grain of salt. According to the federal formula, Georgia is lower than all of its neighboring states, but this is also the first time all states have used the same measures.
Historically, states have calculated graduation rates using varying methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next. The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, will allow states to uniformly compare graduation rates across the nation. The new calculation means that the graduation rate may appear dramatically different even if the number of students who actually graduate hasn't changed.
Use of the new rate for federal accountability purposes went into effect across the nation this school year (2011-12). Georgia has been granted permission to use a five-year rate for federal accountability purposes for 2011-12.
“The new formula,” says Fayette County school system public information officer Melinda Berry-Dreisbach, “requires states to track each student from ninth grade and to set their school, district and state graduation rates based on how many of those students receive a diploma within four years. The 2011 rate for Fayette is 78.2 percent under the new formula.”
Berry-Dreisbach pointed out that just about every school district, and the state, saw a drop under the new calculation.
“Fayette had a graduation rate of 94 percent under the old formula. The state’s rate went from 80.8 percent in 2010 to 67.5 percent in 2011. We should see an increase in the rate for 2012 since districts will be allowed to include in their graduation rate calculations the students who receive a diploma in five years, as well as four.”
As opposed to what appears to be a drop in graduation rates, Fayette’s SAT scores continue to be over and above SAT scores posted throughout the state and on the national levels.
The county topped the state average by 90 points and the nation by 44 points with average test scores of 1542. The breakdown of the school system’s score is 517 for critical reading; 524 for mathematics; and 501 for writing. Fayette outscored the state and nation in all test sections. The county’s score is 29 points above the state and 21 points above the nation in critical reading; 35 points above the state and 10 points above the nation in mathematics; and 26 points about the state and 13 points above the nation in writing.