With 2017 graduation rates for all four of its high schools above 90 percent, Floyd County Schools boosted its system-wide rate to 94.3 percent. Rome High saw its rate drop below 90 percent after posting a 92.77 percent rate in 2016.
The state Department of Education released graduation data on Wednesday that reflected growth in the 2017 statewide graduation rate. A 1.2-percent improvement statewide brought the rate up to 80.6 percent, which both Rome and Floyd County high schools surpassed.
Floyd County Schools has maintained a four-year graduation rate above 90 percent for the last three school years, and the Class of 2017 saw a 1.23 percent bump in its rate from the Class of 2016.
“It’s awesome and unbelievable,” said John Jackson, the FCS superintendent. “My hat is really off to the teachers and graduation specialists.”
Pepperell High had the biggest jump in its rate, going up to 96.2 percent from 89.67 percent. It was the only Floyd County high school to beat its 2016 rate. Armuchee had a rate of 95 percent, down from 95.80 percent; Model’s rate was 93.3 percent, down from 93.63; and Coosa’s rate landed at 92.3 percent, down from 94.41 percent.
But put together, the system’s rate puts Floyd County Schools in the top 20 school systems in the state.
The system’s culture has been transformed under the mantra of “Destination Graduation,” which teachers have embraced, Jackson said. From students’ earliest years in school, they are ingrained in the belief that graduation is the ultimate goal, he added.
When the system hit 93.07 percent in 2016, Jackson said he was fearful that this rate would be hard to match and even harder to improve on. He had been told by principals and staff that the rates would be high once again, but not until the DOE released their data did he believe what he was being told.
The state has Rome High’s 2017 rate at 88.5 percent, but Superintendent Lou Byars said there was a discrepancy between the system’s calculation and the state’s. Raw graduation numbers are sent out to each school by the DOE and the system has the opportunity to go back through the list of names and make corrections to ensure all graduates are on it, he said. There were three students that didn’t get corrected for different reasons, and the deadline had passed for getting them fixed.
The system has Rome High’s 2017 rate at 89.3 percent, Byars said. System officials were aware its rate was likely going to drop. Though it’s not what as high as the system wants it to be, the rate is nothing to be ashamed of, he said. This is the first time since 2014, when the system was at 81.3 percent, that the high school hasn’t had growth in its rate.
With enrollment going up, Byars said there’s a lot of hard work ahead to get as many students to stay on or get back on the track to graduating on time. Though the rate has dropped, the school graduated about 38 more students in 2017 than it did last year, about 62 more than they did in 2015 and about 144 more than 2014.
Efforts focused on boosting graduation numbers include a 30-minute work period each school day for students to make up assignments, along with more after-school assistance, better tracking where all students are on the path to graduation and intervening with students before they fail a course.
“Our job is to make sure this happens,” said Byars, adding that he tells every principal and staff member that Rome City Schools is a “no excuse” system.