By the numbers, the Polk School District continues to see improvement year after year in making sure students are leaving with the education they need to succeed in life.
Especially those who aren’t necessarily college-bound when they finish their four years at Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools.
Katie Thomas, the CEO of the College and Career Academy as well as Assistant Superintendent, said the rates posted this year are just evidence of a continuing trend of positive results for the district.
“The graduation rates validate what we have known in Polk County for a long time--students that plug into an area of interest, whether it be Welding, Construction, Healthcare, or Engineering, want to stay in school,” Thomas said. “They see the relevance of Math, English, Social Studies and Science because they see it come alive in the classroom each and every day.”
Polk County’s four different pathways offered to students at both high schools and the College and Career Academy were near or at the 100% mark across the board.
At Rockmart High, students in the Advanced Academic, World Language, Fine Arts or CTAE (one of the College and Career Academy programs) all came in at perfect 100% scores for the Class of 2019.
Cedartown’s rate was just shy of that, with Advanced Academic students reaching a 98.67 rate, and CTAE at 96. The World Language and Fine Arts pathways both achieved 100% rates.
With both sets of scores combined, that put the district at 99.21 percent for Advanced Academics students, 100 percent across the board for World Language and Fine Arts programs, and CTAE at 97.56%. Compared to state scores, Polk School District’s rate for College and Career graduates was just above a percentage point higher than all the programs in Georgia combined.
The statewide average came in at 96.54% for CTAE programs. Additionally, they reported that 99.6% of the students who complete the pathway go onto colleges and technical schools, advanced training, military service or right into a job after graduation.
The rate in 2019 statewide grew by 14.54 percentage points.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods pointed out that it was exactly the kind of outcome his department and all who care about the education of youth in Georgia hope to see.
“Our goal in education is to prepare students to live fulfilling lives,” Woods said in a press release about the numbers earlier this month. “We want students to find careers they love. We want them to use their skills and talents to contribute to their communities and build the future of our state. Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education makes that happen by connecting Georgia’s K-12 schools with business and industry and helping students see the relevance of their education. This year’s graduation rate shows the program continues to succeed.”
Part of the reason why Polk County is seeing success locally is due to the programs put in place to help students succeed, like partnerships with The HON Company in Cedartown and Miura in Rockmart, or through dual enrollment programs with Georiga Highlands College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College that allow students to take college classes that count toward both their high school diploma and a degree. Several students over the past few years have finished their education with the Polk School District with Associate’s degrees in hand as they get ready to head to college.
All of that is possible thanks to support of the community, and leaders within the district who have pushed for increasing education opportunities for students locally.
“We are very fortunate to have the support of both the Polk School District Board of Education and the Polk County College and Career Academy Board of Directors when it comes to bringing endless college and career opportunities to our students,” Thomas said. “Our community thrives when education and workforce development work hand-in-hand.”