Newton graduation rate drops 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. "I believe that in order to tackle a problem you have to have honest and accurate data. We will be able to use this new data as a baseline to see how our important initiatives are impacting graduation rates in the future."

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

"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."

Across the state, Rockdale County Public Schools earned a 66.20 percent graduation rate under the new calculation, Social Circle City Schools 68.53, Morgan County Schools 86.09, Trion City Schools 95.88, Chickamauga City Schools 97.44, Taliaferro County Schools 40 percent and Crawford County Schools 42.45 percent.

Historically, states have calculated graduation rates using varying methods, creating inconsistent data from one state to the next, state officials said.

The new formula, which better accounts for dropouts, divides the number of graduates in a given year by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier. State officials said the graduation rate may appear dramatically different even if the number of students who actually graduate hasn't changed.

"It's important that it gets out that these drops aren't the result of a state doing worse," said Tara N. Tucci, a senior research and policy associate at the Washington-based advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education. "Now we have an accurate picture."

Under the old calculation, the rate of students receiving diplomas had topped 80 percent, and now states, systems and schools are seeing drops up to about 20 percent.

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.

"I am puzzled about the numbers. It seems to me, that CCA would have a 'not applicable,'" said CCA's principal Ernetta Dailey-Worthy, adding that the school's first ninth-grade class was in 2008-09 and is not scheduled to graduate until May 2012. "We have not had any cohort of students for four full years prior to this school year, and, therefore, do not understand how CCA was assigned a percentage. I look forward to receiving clarification."

The state reported the Dekalb Alternative Night School to have a 2.46 percent rate and GIVE East in Gwinnett County to have a 3.61 percent rate, and several schools reported a 0 percent rate. Those with 0 or low grad rates are either residential facilities where the students may well have graduated from the home high school, are alternative high schools with transient populations, are 9th grade academies or reflect not enough students to calculate a statistically reliable rate, according to the GaDOE.

Also across the state, a few schools -- the Savannah Arts Academy, Johnson Magnet in Richmond County, Woody Gap High in Union County and the Gwinnett School of Math, Science and Technology -- earned a 100 percent graduation rate.

"We've known for some time and communicated that this new formula would show a lower graduation rate than the rate under the previous formula," Barge said. "However, regardless of calculation formula, the state has significantly raised graduation rates over the last several years, but there is still much work to do."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


Satan69 3 years, 7 months ago

So the Chairman Johnson spends important time on newspaper columns when West Newton-HIS DISTRICT- goes to the toilet with results like this.


Watermelonlover 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow, what is going on here? This is very disappointing and heartbreaking I feel so bad for the student that are suffering through this how many times have we said us the people and the ONE board member who actually cares enough to speak that all of this was going on.

The kids ask the counselors for guidance they don't get it, let alone get calls back on what they should do. The Principal would rather watch things unfold rather then get involved in anything. What is it going to take the school getting investigated before anyone gets motivated enough to help. This is a prime example of LAZINESS. So let's all throw our hands in the air and not care now because we have the sorriest principal in the world.

Fighting and food fights are the major areas of concern. Yeah the fighting maybe an attention getter because these kids are frustrated no one listens to them and they feel no one cares so why should they? Let's see how to get some attention positive or negative. So sad.

We need help out here please!!! Concerned Parent


Henrycounselor 3 years, 7 months ago

This is a very sad. Watermelonlover I have to agree with what you said I do believe that a lot of these kids are just trying to get attention granted that is not an excuse however my main question is why are the counselors not helping the kids with what they need and not calling them back what is up with that? There is something wrong with this whole entire picture at Alcovy. I think that we need some major things to change like possibly look into a staff change for one. The other maybe get some counselors that care if the kids graduate or not. This is looking like a bunch of family members run this school.

You can't help but feel like these kids are set up for failure from the inside. WOW. Can someone please help this school?


John 3 years, 7 months ago

The first major step that needs to be taken is that the PARENTS and/or GUARDIANS of these students needs to be involved in their children's life from day one by teaching them the values of earning a good education, common courtesy, respect for others, themselves, their family & authority. The schools (teachers, admin) can help reinforce these values but if they are not taught at home, the schools will have a real hard time teaching them. Remember, that a teacher only sees a student about 1 hour per day along with 26-30 other students in a class. On the other hand, the parents or guardian sees the students (or should see) them for much more time. Schools cannot be expected to correct issues that were learned some place else. Changing the staff will not resolve the issues if changes aren't first made at home.


Teedoffparent 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm just in aww with this whole situation I just can't believe that these board members and staff and Admin are so blind to this fact. It is a shame that the members would rather focus so much on article writing and getting upset about Mr Meadors doing his job that AHS has just been a fading thought. I just hate to see this kind of thing but you know I can't help but think if something doesn't give that we are going to end up like Atlanta and start closing schools and things will be a mess. The thing that is my concern is when my child comes home and is so upset about the school situation that her counselors won't help her with what she needs for graduation and states that she has put a counseling slip in to her counselor and it has been 2wks since anybody has even mentioned that she has put in for an appointment then there is reason for concern.

So please tell me how are the kids supposed to know who to talk to about what they need if the counselors and staff can't communicate with anybody and if the child is in danger of failing and the counselors don't inform the parents how are we to help them? This isn't the psychic friends network I need to know what is going on with my child's education even if the Admin could care less


amp72 3 years, 7 months ago

Do what I and my family did when my cousin was at AHS- call the school non-stop, show up and raise you-know-what, demand answers, bug the snot out of the BOE office, etc. My family finally got tired of it and pulled my cousin out of the school but people need to keep making phone calls and sending emails and showing up in person because otherwise it will continue and get worse, as you say.


John 3 years, 7 months ago

I am not disagreeing with what you are saying, but as a parent you probably have had the opportunity to see how your child is doing in school via a review of their report cards and test paper grades.


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