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Here’s how Columbus area schools compare on 2018 Georgia high school graduation rates

Spotted at the 2018 Hardaway High Graduation
Spotted at the 2018 Hardaway High Graduation Special to the Ledger-Enquirer/Darrell Roaden

The Muscogee County School District improved its graduation rate for the sixth straight year and surpassed the state average for the fifth straight year and the national average for the fourth straight year.

MCSD’s graduate rate in 2018 was 88.9 percent, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the 2017 rate of 87.8 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

The district also increased its margin over the state and national averages. Georgia’s rate improved by 1 percentage point, from 80.6 to 81.6, while the national rate improved by 0.8 percentage points, from 83.2 to 84.

MCSD’s graduation rate has soared by 21.4 percentage points since it was 67.5 percent in 2012, although this is the fourth year the state’s graduating senior class isn’t required to pass the Georgia High School Graduation Tests since the high-stakes exams were phased out.

“We are very pleased with our district’s sustained improvement on this important performance metric, which continues to outpace both the state and national averages,” MCSD superintendent David Lewis said in a news release. “We can attribute this achievement directly to our students’ commitment to a brighter future as full-option graduates, as well as dedicated teachers, administrators, support staff and families who encourage and support them in attaining this educational milestone.”

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 eighth 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.

Since the 69.7 percent graduation rate in 2012, the state’s rate has improved year for a total gain of 18.9 percentage points.

“Georgia’s graduation rate continues to rise because our public-school students have access to more opportunities than ever before,” Georgia Department of Education superintendent Richard Woods said in a news release. “From Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education to dual enrollment to the fine arts, there is an unprecedented emphasis on supporting the whole child and making sure every single student understands the relevance of what they’re learning. I’m confident we’ll continue to see these gains as long as we’re still expanding opportunities that keep students invested in their education.”

Six of MCSD’s nine high schools improved or maintained their graduation rate, comparing this year to last year.

Hardaway led the way with an increase of 3.5 percent points (from 88.1 to 91.6), followed by Northside’s increase of 1.1 (from 91.9 to 93.0), Shaw’s increase of 0.7 (from 87.2 to 87.9) and Spencer’s increase of 0.4 (from 85.8 to 86.2).

Early College maintained its 100 percent graduation rate, and Jordan maintained its 75.4.

Kendrick fell 0.4 percentage points (from 87.7 to 87.3), Columbus fell 0.7 percentage points (from 100 to 99.3), and Carver fell 0.8 percentage points (from 87.1 to 86.3).

Eight of MCSD’s nine high schools surpassed the state’s graduation rate. Jordan is the exception. And four MCSD high schools graduate more than 90 percent of their students (Early College, Columbus, Northside and Hardaway).

“We are gratified by the positive trend for our district,” Lewis said, “and we will remain focused on our ultimate goal of 100 percent of our students graduating on time and prepared for postsecondary education, training, the workforce or military service.”

MCSD also continues to outperform the school districts serving Georgia’s second-tier cities. Here is how Muscogee County’s 88.9 percent graduation rate in class of 2,217 students compares to districts with similar size and demographics:

  • Bibb County (Macon) increased 1.4 percentage points (from 77.1 percent to 78.5 percent in a class of 1,636 students).

  • Chatham County (Savannah) increased 2.3 percentage points (from 84.3 percent to 86.6 percent in a class of 2,240 students).

  • Richmond County (Augusta) decreased 0.8 percentage points (from 78.5 percent to 77.7 percent in a class of 2,170 students).

  • Here is a graduation rate comparison between this year and last year for other local school districts:

  • Harris County decreased 0.1 percentage point (from 92.5 percent to 92.4 percent in a class of 445).

  • Chattahoochee County decreased 4.2 percentage points (from 86.3 percent to 82.1 percent in a class of 112 students.)

  • Marion County increased 3.6 percentage points (from 89.2 percent to 92.8 percent in a class of 111 students).

  • Meriwether County decreased 2.7 percentage points (from 86.6 percent to 83.9 percent in a class of 192 students).

  • Troup County increased 6.1 percentage points (from 78 percent to 84.1 percent in a class of 832 students).

  • Talbot County increased 20 percentage points (from 75 percent to 95 percent in a class of 40 students).

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

A group of 25 Muscogee County high school students are receiving free hands-on experience in aerospace engineering during a two-week summer day camp at the Columbus State University Coca-Cola Space Science Center.