Rockdale graduation rates increase dramatically for second year in a row

CONYERS — Rockdale County Public Schools’ four-year graduation rate is 78 percent for 2013, a 6 percent increase from last year according to the Georgia Department of Education.

Specific school four-year graduation rates this year include Heritage High at 79.5 percent, Rockdale High at 80.3 percent, and Salem High with 78.6 percent.

In 2012, the school system gained a 5.7 percent increase, meaning that RCPS earned an overall 11.8 percent four-year graduation increase in a two-year span.

“To have a nearly 12 percentage point increase over a two-year period is a major accomplishment,” said RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry in a press release. “All three of our traditional high schools, Heritage, Rockdale and Salem, again demonstrated significant growth over the prior year. We must also recognize the contribution of our non-traditional schools such as Rockdale Career Academy, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, Open Campus, and Alpha Academy for supporting the talents, interests and needs of our high school students. It is the district’s goal that every student not only earns their high school diploma but also acquires industry certification and/or college credit necessary to possess an advantage in their post-secondary endeavors. While we strive to have students accomplish this in the traditional four-year span as indicated by these results, we are committed to graduating every child even if extended time or support is necessary. I appreciate the work of our administrators, faculty and staff to keep students focused and on track for graduation.”

Georgia’s average four-year graduation rate also increased year over year, from 70 percent in 2012 to 71 percent this year.

There are two separate graduation cohorts, according the Georgia DOE; one for students who graduate within four years of beginning their freshman year, and one for students who graduate five years after entering high school. The former Georgia graduation rate was calculated by the number of students who graduated, regardless of the number of years they spent in high school. In compliance with the U.S. DOE, all 50 states must use the four-year and five-year cohort rates to calculate the number of graduates.

“Under a more rigorous calculation method, the trend still shows that the percentage of our high school students graduating increases year to year,” said state School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “Despite the economic challenges our districts are facing, we have more high school students graduating today than we have had in several years, which is a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers. We must continue our progress to ensure all students cross the finish line, because without a high school diploma, their options are very limited.”