The Muscogee County School District improved its graduation rate for the fifth straight year and surpassed the state average for the fourth straight year and the national average for the third straight year.
MCSD’s graduation rate in 2017 was 87.8 percent, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the 2016 rate of 86.1 percent, according to data the Georgia Department of Education released Wednesday. The district also increased its margin over the state average, which improved by 1.4 percentage points, from 79.2 to 80.6. The most recent statistic for the national high school graduation rate was 83.2 percent, released in October 2016
During the past three years, MCSD has increased its graduation rate by 3.2 percentage points while the state’s average has increased by 1.8 percentage points.
“Graduation rates remain one of the most significant performance indicators for any high school or district,” MCSD superintendent David Lewis, who came to Columbus in July 2013 from Polk County, Fla., said in a news release. “Our school communities and district support staff work tirelessly to support students in achieving this educational milestone, and these record graduation rates reflect their commitment to our students.”
As required by the U.S. Department of Education, The graduation rate measures the percentage of students who graduate from high school within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. This is the seventh straight year Georgia has used the adjusted cohort for its graduation rate. The state used to define the cohort upon graduation, which could have included students who took more than four years to graduate.
MCSD’s graduation rate has soared by 20.3 percentage points since it was 67.5 percent in 2012, but this is the third year the state’s graduating class isn’t required to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests since the high-stakes exams were phased out.
The Columbus public school district’s graduation rate of 87.8 percent continues to be better than Georgia’s other second-tier cities: Bibb County (Macon) increased 5.5 percentage points, from 71.6 to 77.1; Chatham County (Savannah) increased 1.1 percentage points, from 83.2 to 84.3; Richmond County (Augusta) increased 1.8 percentage points, from 76.7 to 78.5.
Looking at other Columbus area school districts, Harris County declined by 0.2 percentage points, from 92.7 to 92.5, Chattahoochee County increased by 1.5 percentage points, from 84.8 to 86.3, and Troup County increased by 1.1 percentage points, from 76.9 to 78.0.
Looking at the nine high schools in Muscogee County, Spencer High School led the district with the most improvement on its graduation rate, leaping 10.0 percentage points, from 75.8 percent in 2016 to 85.8 percent in 2017.
“Our team attributes the increase in graduation rate to the development and implementation of an effective monitoring and tracking system,” Spencer principal Johnny Freeman said in the news release. “The school’s graduation team collaborated with various stakeholders, which included the Georgia Department of Education, the district, parents, graduation coaches, teachers, staff, and most importantly our students. The team devised a plan to ensure we conducted transcript audits, which allowed us to identify courses the students needed for graduation.”
Other highlights of MCSD’s graduation rate report:
▪ Eight of the district’s nine high schools have graduation rates better than the state average (Carver, Columbus, Early College, Hardaway, Kendrick, Northside, Shaw and Spencer).
▪ Six of the nine increased their graduation rate (Columbus, Jordan, Kendrick, Northside, Shaw and Spencer).
▪ Three of the nine have graduation rates better than 90 percent (Columbus, Early College, and Northside).
▪ Two of the nine have graduation rates of 100 percent (Columbus and Early College, which are the total magnet schools, meaning they don’t have an attendance zone and can admit any student in the district who qualifies).
Lewis concluded, “Today’s news regarding the graduation rate is reflective of the many gains we are making in the Muscogee County School District. While we should celebrate our graduation rate improvement, we must continue the relentless push toward our ultimate goal of ensuring that all students become full-option graduates prepared for postsecondary education, training and the workforce.”
2017 GRADUATION RATES
Troup County average
Here’s how the graduation rate for the class of 2017 in the Muscogee County School District compares to the districts in Georgia’s other second-tier cities, Bibb County (Macon), Chatham County (Savannah) and Richmond County (Augusta):