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Graduation rate for Newton High improves

COVINGTON – The Newton County School System has released an amended four-year graduation rate for Newton High School for 2013, which shows the school had a 5 percent higher graduation rate than first reported.

was initially calculated at 67 percent in December.

In December, NCSS reported that Newton High’s graduation rate was 67 percent. After looking closer at the numbers, which indicated a significant drop over the previous year’s rate, the school system reported Tuesday that the high school’s actual graduation rate is 72 percent, which slightly exceeds the state average of 71 percent. This newly adjusted rate has also resulted in an overall increase for the NCSS graduation rate, bringing the system’s rate up from 71 percent to 73.

“While Newton High School’s adjusted graduation rate does demonstrate an improvement from the reported 67 percent, we are confident that Newton’s graduation rate would increase further if all of the paperwork had been correctly catalogued and entered into the database,” Newton County Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said in a press release. “The state’s opening of the portal provided Newton High School staff with the opportunity to verify additional records that were not previously verified. We have carefully reviewed our processes and procedures to ensure we will not experience this issue in the future.”

The school’s graduation rate initially appeared to have dropped 16 percentage points from its 2012 graduation rate. After reviewing the decrease, Newton High personnel determined that they had not been able to verify all of the reasons for student withdrawal at the time the 2013 graduation rates were originally released, causing the rate to drop.

Whenever a student withdraws from school, school staff must verify his or her enrollment in another school in order for the student to not be considered a “drop-out.” Many students from NHS relocated to different schools in the previous year, but their enrollment in another school had not been verified by the Newton High officials.

When discovering this miscalculation, the Georgia Department of Education granted a brief window of time during which the school was allowed to update its data. In that time period, NHS personnel were able to track down information on students who had transferred to other schools, bringing the school’s graduation rate up 5 points.

The four-year graduation rate defines the cohort of students who started high school their freshman year and graduated within four years, and should include adjustments for student transfers, according the Georgia DOE. In contrast, Georgia’s former graduation rate was calculated to include students who may have taken more than four years to graduate high school.