Students in the Fulton County School System are graduating in record numbers from the district’s 19 high schools, but the goal of reaching a 92 percent graduation rate still remains a district priority.
Data released by the Georgia Department of Education calculated Fulton’s graduation rate at 87.2 percent for the class of 2019, a 0.4 percent increase from the previous year and among the highest rates of metro Atlanta school systems.
Fulton’s graduation rate also exceeds the state average by more than 5 percentage points.
“The data shows that our district made progress on this front last year,” said Fulton Superintendent Mike Looney. “We intend to celebrate the hard work of our schools. We intend to remain laser focused on ensuring that this trend continues so that we can witness all of our students walk across the high school stage with a diploma.”
Statewide, the graduation rate of 82 percent is an all-time high for Georgia since 2012 when federal law adjusted how graduation rates could be calculated. The previous formula did not factor in drop-outs or transfers, leading to artificially high graduation rates.
Among the 19 high schools across Fulton County, all but five increased their graduation rate over the previous year. In North Fulton, only two schools, Milton and Johns Creek high schools, posted slightly lower graduation rates from the previous year.
Among the top performers, Chattahoochee High School led the pack with a graduation rate of 97.9 percent, followed by Cambridge (97.6) and Northview (90).
Fulton’s 5-year Strategic Plan, first passed in 2012 and renewed in 2017, sets a high bar for the district’s graduation rates. In 2012 the goal was a 90 percent graduation rate; in 2017 it went to 92 percent.
“While Fulton’s graduation rate of 87.2 leads our metro peers and there is much to be celebrated, we have not reached our Strategic Plan 2022 target of 92 percent,” said Cliff Jones, Chief Academic Officer. “This gap shows that there is work to be done.”
This year, all eight traditional high schools in North Fulton exceeded the 90 percent mark for the first time.
State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods said the work the Georgia Department of Education is doing to customize education for each child is paying off with higher graduation rates and overall achievement.
“Moving forward, we must continue to focus on offering a relevant education and preparing every child for their future – not a one-size-fits-all system that sends every student in the same direction,” said Woods.
He noted Georgia is seeking flexibility from the federal government to develop an alternate diploma for students with significant cognitive disabilities, which may impact how graduation rates are calculated in the future if the waiver is approved.