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Gwinnett County Graduation Rate Is 67.6 Percent

A new formula forces school systems to only count students who graduate within four years.

You may have heard that the graduation number was closer to 84 percent.  It is, if you count students that graduate eventually.

But if you count the number of students that graduate within four years, the rate is much lower.  This new 'formula' is how all school systems will begin reporting their stats going forward.  It takes Georgia's overall graduation rate for 2011 down to 67.4 percent (from 80.9 percent in 2010), but should put school systems on a level field when it comes to measuring their success.

What surprises me is that this number has not received more attention.  Maybe the reason is that the only thing that has changed is the calculation, not the number of students that graduate, but I believe that most people who have heard the 80 - 84 percent graduation rates assumed that it was for students who graduated in the normal four years.

What do you think? The school has known about this for a while, but you will still hear Gwinnett County School officials quoting the old rates.

Here are links to read the new graduation rates published in official publications.  The first one is a pdf from the Spring 2012 Gwinnett Public School newsletter.  The article, "State adjusts to new way of calculating graduation rates," appears on the third page:

Communiqué Essentials, Spring 2012

The second one is from the Governor's Office of Student Achievement.  It is a graph, and is a little harder to read, but it breaks the numbers down by race and other factors:

GAOSA 2010-2011 Report Card 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Amy September 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Not surprised. Gwinnett does not encourage or nurture success, it churns out losers. This county wants some children to fail. GCPS's Superintendent has been in that position longer than the average 11th grader has been alive. That's ridiculous. Wake up GC! Get rid of him!
Sabrina Smith September 23, 2012 at 12:20 AM
I was at the Gwinnett Chamber's monthly membership meeting on Thursday and GCPS Superintendent Wilbanks told the crowd that Gwinnett County has an 84% graduation rate. That's odd when GCPS's own newsletter reveals that it is 67%.
Scott Terry September 23, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Sabrina, with this economy, who wouldn't lie to save their job? I (barely) graduated over twenty years ago. As a student then, it was obvious that producing numbers on paper was far more important than producing scholars. I was told as much by a high school counselor. Most parents seem too busy to get involved in the outcome or apparently satisfied with the numbers.
Sam September 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM
Things will continue as they are until we Gwinnetians elect a new superintendent and a new board. All Wilbanks cares about is test scores and receiving accolades. Students and teachers he can do without.
Denna Millard September 23, 2012 at 01:23 PM
This is very sad. Yes. I agree parents are not involving themselves in their children's school education. The crime rate is very high and I believe this is due to poor learning on the child's part. Teachers have a hard time teaching students who have an attitude of not wanting to learn. Teens feel unaccepted, frustrated, start running with a crowd seeking attention the wrong way - CRIME. Surely there is some way to retain students in the school system until they can pass certain criteria - social behavior, know English and speak English, obtain decent math skills, pass psychological skills, etc. Our prisons are over populated with teens/adults who have very little, or none, knowledge/skills to survive in this world who can be rehabilitated if there was a system in place to help this people. Anybody got any ideas how this could be accomplished? Yes, I know, it would cost the taxpayer in the long run, but have you seen the stats of what it cost daily to feed these people? Lets find ways to aboutface these non productive people.
Lica September 23, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Our daughter graduated in four years because we paid thousands of dollars for online classes -- all math. The math curriculum (chosen by the State BOE) is insane and, I believe, primarily responsible for the number of dropouts -- a statewide problem. I do not believe most of GC teachers are able to effectively teach math; however, when there are more than 30 students in the class, it is difficult to effectively teach anything. Add to that the large number of daily drug users (and teachers who ignore in-class drug sales), and you have a bunch of do-nothing losers. The campus police presence appears to be there only for fights that routinely break out. I could go on and on, but my personal feeling is that math is the greatest obstacle for kids who do NOT need calculcus, advanced algebra, and trig in their lives. They would be much better off with practical math basics (that would still allow them to go to college) and being able to pass the course -- and graduate on time. The school is setting them up to be failures. But, the school system is making obscene amounts of money charging $250-300 per online course, so I'm afraid I must believe it is in the State's (and Gwinnett County's) best interest to rack in $6,000 or more PER ONLINE COURSE from all the kids who fail classes -- by those who are able to pay for it.
KBR September 23, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Please be careful not to assuming the other 30+% are high school drop outs. The new formula follows students as they enter 9th grade together and expects them to exit 12th grade together in exactly 4 years. With our modern, transient society, fewer students start one high school and graduate from it 4 years later. Many students now also have a combination of online courses, homeschool credit, summer school credit, and transfer credits from other school systems so that not every student spends exactly two semesters in each grade. It's not about the number of classes passed with these combinations; it's about receiving the credits in particular areas to be promoted each year. Because of the number of required courses and the absence of a general education diploma in Georgia, gone are the days when students have 2-3 elective classes that are non-academic. This means that a high school freshman struggling academically, who may or may not have parental support, can easily get behind on graduation credits and no longer be considered part of his or her "cohort" but may still graduate successfully in 4.5-5 years with summer school or online credits. This student is now used to drop the school's graduation rating. Nobody in the press spends time talking about the many intervention plans in our local schools that help these students succeed. GCPS has some high academic standards. I'd rather them be challenged and take longer to graduate then to be passed by teachers for good stats.
Mary Lou September 23, 2012 at 02:19 PM
We saw our only option as to leave the public school sector behind and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to go private, even as invested and involved with our children's lives at school and home that we were/are. We found ourselves fighting a "system" just to try raising our kids with your basic decency. Schools and society(especially here in Snellville) go hand in hand in failing us, we have felt. Just cannot wait until we can move on..if we are unable to get our house values to any acceptable loss( cannot believe I have to even face that reality) we will rent it out and go! we have been here since 96 and its only getting worse..year after year after year. Yes, change is the answer via voting, etc..but it doesn't seem to look too promising in the near future. People seem H*** bent on keeping the same broken people, and system, in place :/
Trish Ates-Jackson@comcast.net September 23, 2012 at 02:22 PM
There are more involved parents than you think. We have to work and have careers too. There are limits to what parents can do with frustrated teachers, counselors, case managers, and their child (dren). As involved and supportive parents, we need the school leaders, administrators, and professionals to inform us positively, truthfully, skillfully, and promptly. Yes, it's necessary for parents to attend school evening meetings, curriculum night, graduation plans/counselors,and parent teacher conferences, etc. But don't waste our time with the same non working approaches, old processes/procedures, and rules.
North Georgia Weather September 23, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Gwinnett is becoming victim of the transient student and lower income population. There is no reversal.
marlene buchanan September 23, 2012 at 03:13 PM
One important point needs to be hightlighted from above. Part of the numbers are based on the students who enter in 9th and exit in 12th within the same system. GCPS does have a high transition population. Another point is that withthe economy deflated, the classrooms are bursting. A teacher can not have a strong, supportinve relationship with the numbers of students s/he has each day. Classes at 24 are better taught and students are better learners than classes of 34+. Too long. See next comment.
marlene buchanan September 23, 2012 at 03:30 PM
GA and GCPS has had some good programs in place that could have made a significant difference in the quality of education and the graduation rate. The Graduatin Coaches were an excellent idea. Central Gwinnett had someone who handled only those students who were "at risK" and the special needs students. That counselor met with those kids,talked to the parents and helped them toplan a graduation path. Sometimes it was necessary for some to take reading programs , test for learning issues as needed and helped to plan a reasonable course to graduation, often it was learning how to study and rearrange the desires below the have tos in life. There was a strong involvement with parents, counselor, teachers and especially the student. The student was the number one concern and the desire was help him or her find a focus for success and help that child achieve those goals. Sometimes it was slow. Sometimes it was as simple as as realizing, "This kids reads at thirds grade level! Get her into a reading support class."
marlene buchanan September 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Well, GCPS and many of the GA school systems no longer offer reading support classes. I encourage parents of all age children to look at the test results--really look. If your child is reading two or more grade levels behind, do something about it. Improved reading supports improved math and all other subject areas. At the end of World War II, everyone's dream was their child to attend college. College is not the answer for most people. College frequently is theory oriented. We need practical techincal education. The term "vo-tech" seems to mean to so many, low pay, low intellect, but the opposite is true. It takes skills to do the "vocational technical" jobs that are prevalent today. Look at the jobs that are out there, find something that interests you, and get the training. You can always get more training. I had a friend who went to a technical school and got her cosmetology license and then went to college. She was a business major. She paid for her college education, her clothes, her car and all of her expenses. She did the girls and guys hair in the dorms. She is now a CPA and wons several beauty salons as well as her CPA office with a couple of accountants. Things about what you want and set you goals.
marlene buchanan September 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Think about what you want, set your goals and get training needed. Unfortuantely, there are not many kids who know their direction in high school. They are floundering, but the counselors average over 500 students. They can't always find you, you have to seek us out so we might be able to help. Take advantage of the career information centers, talk to adults and learn to read. REduce the hours of video games and do your homework. Come prepared. Is that job necessary or is it to support a car & insurance. Get to bed at a reasonable time. Teens need more sleep than any other age group with the exceptionof infants and the very elderly. This is the group that is burning the midnight oil for a car or for fun. By the way, turn closed caption on your TVs. it helps all people improve reading comprehension, reading speed and vocabulary. It is especially helpful if you are trying to learn English as a second language. Are you trying to learn Spanish? Watch those chanels with the closed captions. It makes a BIG difference. And Yes, when it gets to paper and comparing schools/systems, it is all numbers. But you get out of life what you put into it and you get the education that you strive for when you prepare for it, too. In all the schools I have worked in, we welcomed, even encouraged at times, having the parents attend classes with the kids. See what is going on and remember, your kid isn't going to act like he normally does when you are there.
Crystal Huskey (Editor) September 23, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Thank you all for your comments. Please keep in mind that personal attacks will be deleted.
M.K. OSBORNE September 23, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I would like to see the data with the new formula for all the years dating back to the inception of the Gateway program because i feel this will show our true progress or a true mission to improve .I would also want to see a per high school breakdown from that same time period to measure individual schools and shift resources accordingly .Also if a child starts in the 9th grade at a school and moves to another district does this count as a non graduate statistic , if it does this is pure political maneuvering on the part of the state trying to sway the charter vote by making public schools to appear worse in the minds of voters .
M.K. OSBORNE September 23, 2012 at 04:19 PM
If the 9th grader moves from one school within the county does the child get counted twice in the statistic pool ?
KBR September 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I agree with M.K. Osborne that we need more information before this number is used to judge a school. I am not sure what happens with students who properly transfer schools. I do know that the high schools struggle to track students who often move outside of GCPS without requesting the proper documentation for their next school. In order to prove accurate enrollment counts, our schools spend countless hours documenting where absentee students are. Without proof otherwise, those students are considered drop outs and count against the school. Locally, we can't change the national or state required curriculum. GCPS already requires higher standards, which is a perk of living here compared to some underfunded rural areas. Perhaps instead of attacking the local system for the fact that too many students are failing classes along the way, we need to rally and decide how the community can help. Teachers, if it isn't working, try something different within the bounds of the required curriculum. Parents, encourage good attendance, adequate sleep, and good study habits. Become involved in your local schools as a community resource. Students, value the education you are being provided. Don't assume someone is going to hand you a great, profitable future without hard work. Each family has to do what's best for their children, as many posts above highlight. Some of the stories above emphasize that every child is different and learns at a different rate. Don't penalize schools for this!
M.K. OSBORNE September 23, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Once we get the proper data as mentioned above i feel we can move on to provide a solution on a per school basis , no one size fits all . Now when i say WE i mean each community cluster of concerned citizens with solutions not just complaints !
M.K. OSBORNE September 24, 2012 at 01:56 AM
And the bottom line is for them to continue and graduate ! I will take that over phony stats any day !
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 24, 2012 at 04:29 AM
Government officials attempting to sway votes in GA? NEVER!! (he he he)
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 24, 2012 at 04:34 AM
MK You're going to make them explain that chamber support and the math used to determine the claimed results obtained aren't you?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 24, 2012 at 04:36 AM
Here, here! (or +1)
Cheryl Jones September 24, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Well said.
garybr October 08, 2012 at 02:08 PM
sabrina i am new to this i saw a open job orders for gwinnett it department when i called buddy rodgers he was rude, not answer my question or supply a project plan for this job what do i do i have filled an open request
marlene buchanan October 09, 2012 at 01:54 PM
bernie.kirkland@gwinnett.k12.ga.us
Nick Neal February 14, 2013 at 02:49 AM
Great point

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