Graduation Rate: Tops in the county, highly ranked in state

The Eagles are soaring and the Panthers are on the prowl as newly released graduation rates are a cause for celebration in the Jackson County School System.

East Jackson Comprehensive High School students now boast the highest graduation rate among the county’s four high schools.

Their 95.6 percent graduation rate ranks them 47th among the 443 high schools’ scores released by the Georgia Department of Education last week.

Jackson County Comprehensive High School’s rate of 94.4 percent placed them 63rd statewide.

As a school system, JCSS was ranked 18th of the 188 school systems reported, with a 94.7 composite rate for the two schools’ graduates.

All three numbers were improvements over last year, with JCCHS showing the greatest gain: The Panthers moved up 8.6 points from the 85.8 percent registered by the Class of 2016, and the school system moved up 5 points from 89.4 last year. EJCHS’s 2016 rate was 95.3.

The Panthers’ rank as 63rd statewide also notched a remarkable gain of 144 spots on the statewide ranking of high schools, moving up from 207 last year.

Both high schools and the school system also topped the state average of 80.6 percent, which was an increase from 79.4 last year.

School officials celebrated the rankings last week, delivering balloon bouquets and cookies along with their congratulations.

“We are extremely proud of the work done here, particularly the work done by our students,” said Dr. April Howard, JCSS superintendent. “These rates also are a result of careful monitoring and strong encouragement from our school and classroom leaders and solid support from our parents.”

Big cookie for a big celebration at JCCHS.

The rate is determined by dividing the number of students who graduate with a regular high school diploma within four years of entering ninth grade by the number who formed the cohort for the graduating class when they entered ninth grade for the first time. The total number is adjusted as students who enter the cohort before that class graduates are added, and those who transfer out are subtracted.

The calculation is known as the adjusted four-year cohort rate. The formula is mandated by federal law and is used across the U.S., though each state sets its own requirements for a “regular” high school diploma.

According to information from the GA DOE, “Georgia has some of the highest requirements in the nation for students to graduate with a regular diploma,” and this is the first time the state has passed the 80-percent mark using the adjusted cohort calculation.

The graduation rate continues to rise as Georgia’s schools and districts increase students’ access to unique, personalized learning opportunities that keep students engaged – including Career Pathways, dual enrollment, AP and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, work-based learning, and internships, state officials said.

Local districts and schools are using data more effectively to identify students’ individual learning needs; there is increased emphasis on a balanced curriculum that supports the whole child and a positive school climate that allows students to learn in a safe, supportive environment, they added.

JCSS serves 7,700 students in Pre-K through 12th grade in 10 schools across Jackson County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news.