Newton graduation rate drops 20 percent with new calculation

COVINGTON -- A new federally-mandated graduation rate calculation for the Newton County School System is about 3 percent below the state's new rate and about 20 percent lower than previously released; it includes its charter school's 7 percent rate.

The Georgia Department of Education announced Tuesday morning that the rate for NCSS is 64.14 percent, compared to the state's new rate of 67.4 percent, which adheres to a 2008 update to federal education regulations.

The new calculation, known as the adjusted cohort rate, is meant to allow states to more uniformly compare graduation rates across the nation.

"The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school," said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge in a press release.

The state reported NCSS as having an 85 percent rate in 2011 and 84.2 in 2010.

Individually, the state reported that Alcovy High School's graduation rate is 64.71, Eastside's is 70.60, Newton's is 66.33 and Challenge Charter Academy's is 7.14.

"It is tough accountability, but I believe it is the right accountability," NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews wrote in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. "In NCSS, we have significant school improvement efforts underway in terms of professional development for teachers and administrators and with the opening of the Newton College & Career Academy, we now are in a better position to impact future cohort graduation rates going forward. This is not an 'overnight' challenge but rather is one of long duration."

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.