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    County officials celebrating release of correct grad rate

    November 8, 2016 GMT

    Floyd County Schools officials are celebrating this week, after the system’s corrected 2016 graduation rate was released by the Georgia Department of Education.

    The system’s actual rate is 93 percent, which beats the state average of 79.

    The 93 percent graduation rate is the highest the system has recorded, officials said.

    Individual high school rates were: Armuchee, 96 percent; Coosa, 94 percent; Model, 94 percent rate and Pepperell, 90 percent. All four high schools showed improvement over the 2015 graduation rates.

    "We are really happy about it," said James Burris, principal at Armuchee. "Our rate was higher than we expected, so it was a good surprise Monday morning."

    Burris credits his school’s staff with the strong push that has been made to improve the school’s rate.

    "It is something we talk about every day," he said. "Our graduation coach calls students if they miss a lot of school or works with them to recover credits and our counselors also work hard with the students and our teachers notify them if a student is seen to be at-risk."

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    Jamey Alcorn, principal at Pepperell, said he is "ecstatic" with his school’s steady improvement.

    "We’ve come a long way, from 72 percent in 2012 to 90 today," he said. "That steady increase is a testament to how important it is to our students, our staff and our community."

    When the numbers were originally released last week, the system was showing a 77 percent rate, which was not accurate. This was due to incomplete data regarding withdrawal coding issues.

    When the state calculates a school’s graduation rate, they look at the students who started as freshmen.

    They also add in any students who entered that school during their sophomore, junior and senior year. Any students who withdraw and go to another system in the state are easily accounted for.

    However, if a student withdraws and starts homeschooling or attends a private school or goes to a school out of state, that student can be hard to track. This is where the system must step in.

    "We have a cleanup report we have to fill out," explained John Jackson, superintendent. "We document every student that withdraws and we send that information to the state."

    Any student without proper documentation is marked as a dropout. Floyd County Schools had 138 students they had to provide documentation for. The cleanup report was missed and not turned in on time, according to Jackson.

    "I’m sad about the misfire," said Jackson. "I am relieved that we were able to get the numbers corrected."

    Even though the schools are celebrating and Jackson expects the principals’ meeting today to be filled with good cheer, he is not quite satisfied, he said.

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    "It is a bittersweet thing, because even though the number is strong and we are improving, we still have 7 percent of our students that we are not meeting their needs," he said. "We are trying to figure that out."

    Jackson said he recently attended a conference where one of the topics was what could be done in a system to improve rates once the system hit 90 percent or above.

    "We have to start concentrating on the parents now and getting them involved," he said. "The thing is, with so much technology out there, we can meet the kids’ needs with out-of-the-box solutions and we have realized that it isn’t all about college, it is about offering students options."

    Jackson said system officials have been working to make sure there are programs in place to spark students’ interests, even if they don’t want to attend a traditional college. The mood across the system, from primary to high schools, was celebratory, he added.

    "It matters to all of our schools," he said. "It really starts at the primary or elementary level."

    RN-T.com

    Read this story online for a link to the Floyd County Schools website.