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Rockdale graduation rates improve

CONYERS — Rockdale County Public Schools has increased its graduation rate, and the school system expects to increase it more in the future.

RCPS officials recently reported that its cohort graduation rate — or the rate at which a student graduates on time in four years upon entering ninth grade — is 72 percent for the 2011-12 school year. It was 66.2 percent for the 2010-11 school year.

Based on the lever rate — or the rate at which students graduate in any number of years — which the state Department of Education used to calculate rates in the 2010-11 school year and before, Rockdale’s rate was 86 percent.

“I want all of our students to graduate in four years and on time, but bottom line, I want them to graduate,” said RCPS Superintendent Richard Autry

The state’s average for the 2011-12 school year is 69.7 percent, up from 67 percent during the 2010-11 school year. The state’s average was 80.9 percent based on the lever rate.

For the 2001-02 school year, the system’s rate was 72.6 percent and 83 percent for the 2008-09 school year.

For the 2011-12 school year, Heritage High School’s graduation rate was 73.9 percent, up from 69.8 percent; Salem High School’s rate was 69.3 percent, up from 65.5 percent; and Rockdale County High School’s rate was 74.01 percent, up from 65.1 percent.

“We expect to see the same type of growth” when new rates are released, Autry said. “We still have work to do to get to a level where we get comfortable but … it is a very difficult task and challenging.”

Autry said he has heard of plans for the state to release the 2012-13 rate in October.

He told board members that of course the county’s goal is to have a 100 percent graduation rate. He added that the county’s drop out rate was last reported a couple of years ago at 2.7 percent, but the state isn’t yet calculated drop out rates with the new graduation rate system.

The graduation rates will be included in the College and Career Ready Performance Index, the state’s new accountability system.