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Georgia's Graduation Rate Jumps to 75.4 Percent (AYP Update)

MEDIA CONTACTS:  - GaDOE Communications office, (404) 463-1487,  - Governor's Press Office, (404) 651-7774       September 30, 2008  -- Georgia's graduation rate has jumped to over 75 percent, the highest level ever. The state's final graduation rate for 2008 is 75.4 percent, an increase of more than three points from last year.     "Georgia continues to make great progress in getting more students to graduate on time with a meaningful diploma," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. "In 2008, we had more than 83,000 students who graduated on time, which is 27,000 more than we had just five years ago. That's a testament to focus, collaboration and a lot of hard work by our teachers and students."     Governor Sonny Perdue said: "The progress we have made in our graduation rate has been nothing short of remarkable. Rising from just barely over 60 percent in 2002 to now over 75 percent reflects the commitment of our teachers, students, parents and graduation coaches."     The state's 2008 graduation rate was released as part of the final Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report. Initial AYP results were released in July. The final release takes into account students who graduated over the summer and retest scores from the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) in grades 3, 5 and 8, as well as school and system appeals. The AYP report is mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.     The final report shows that about 80 percent of Georgia's schools made AYP in 2008.     "It was much more difficult to make AYP this year and yet, in the end, four out of every five schools in Georgia met the mark," Superintendent Cox said. "That is very good news."     There were 241 schools that made AYP in the final report that initially did not make it in July ( see the list of schools ). Also, 20 additional schools came out of Needs Improvement status after the results of appeals, summer graduates and CRCT retests were considered ( see this list of schools ). In all, there were 1,721 of Georgia's 2,153 schools that made AYP.    Graduation Rate Rises for All Students      All groups of students saw significant increases in their graduation rate in 2008.  Georgia's African-American students had a graduation rate of 69.2 percent, up nearly four points from 2007. The state's Hispanic students had a graduation rate of 65.5 percent, up more than five points from 2007.     And Georgia's economically-disadvantaged students raised their graduation rate four points to 67 percent.     "The improvement in our graduation rate is happening across the board for all students in every subgroup," Superintendent Cox said. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we are making steady progress by focusing on what works for all students."    AYP Numbers Improve      In 2008, it was harder for all schools to make AYP.     First, the percentage of students that had to pass state tests in math, reading and English went up for all grade levels. Secondly, students were doing more rigorous work and taking more rigorous tests in 2008, especially in mathematics.     Superintendent Cox emphasized that in 2007-2008 the state's more rigorous curriculum and tests in mathematics were implemented in all grades considered for AYP in elementary schools.     "Our new curriculum definitely sets higher expectations and some students simply needed a little more time to master the work," Superintendent Cox said. "Once the results of summer retests were added we saw the AYP numbers improve dramatically."     Among the improvements:     - The percentage of elementary schools making AYP jumped to 90 percent, up from 76 percent in July.     - The percentage of middle schools making AYP jumped to 80 percent, up from 65 percent in July and 65 percent in 2007.     - There were 56 schools that came out of Needs Improvement status in 2008.     - The number of Needs Improvement schools dropped to 307, the lowest number ever and down from 323 in 2007.     Schools that came out of Needs Improvement due to retest results, summer graduates or appeals must continue to offer public school choice and/or tutoring to students who have already taken advantage of these options. So, for instance, a student who transferred to another school based on the initial AYP results will remain at the school to which he or she transferred.   DATA and INFORMATION  -  Schools that made AYP after summer graduates, CRCT retests and appeals were considered  -  Schools that came out of Needs Improvement Status in 2008  -  FAQs about Adequate Yearly Progress  -  GaDOE's Adequate Yearly Progress website  (contains data, spreadsheets and links) -  Learn about Georgia's Differentiated Accountability Plan