Each high school in Rome and Floyd County posted 2018 graduation rates in the 90s, joining 72 other school systems in the state to do so last school year, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
Floyd County Schools has now maintained a four-year graduation rate above 90 percent for the last four school years and above 93 percent for the last three years. However, the system-wide rate did drop slightly to 93.6 percent in 2018 from 94.3 percent in 2017.
“Once you get between 93 and 95 (percent), it is challenging to see significant increases, but we will continue to work hard," Superintendent Jeff Wilson said in a news release.
Pepperell High had the highest graduation rate among the four Floyd County high schools with 97.9 percent, increasing its rate for the second year in a row. They were followed by Armuchee High with 93.3 percent, Model High with 93 percent and Coosa High with 90.3 percent.
“I was ecstatic to learn the 2018 Pepperell High Graduation rate earlier this week,” Principal Jamey Alcorn said in a news release. “Our graduation rate has steadily increased each of the last seven years to 97.9 (percent) for the Class of 2018.”
“Not only is this a victory for Pepperell High School, it is also a victory for each or our feeder schools, who also played an integral role in assisting these students reach their goal of Destination Graduation,” he continued.
Armuchee, Model and Coosa all saw slight decreases in their graduation rates this year. Armuchee dropped 1.7 percent, Model dropped 0.3 percent and Coosa dropped 2 percent.
Rome High School’s graduation rate jumped back up into the 90s this last school year after dipping below that level in 2017. The 2018 graduation rate was 90.5 percent, up from 88.5 percent the year before. The graduation rate for the school in 2016 was 92.8 percent.
“We’re glad to see the increase,” Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars said. “We continue to want to improve that number each and every year.”
The focus this year was to get the graduation rate back above 90 percent, Byars added.
“That’s always a benchmark,” he continued.
Byars credited the increase to a greater focus on students across the high school, not just seniors, in keeping them on track for graduation, by working closer with freshman to ensure they don’t get behind. He said the desire remains for all students to graduate “ready for college or for work,” referring to the school system’s mission statement.
Both school systems exceeded the state graduation rate — 81.6 percent — by at least 8 percentage points. The state rate went up by 1 percent this year, and the rate has continued to increase each year since 2012, when the rate was 69.7 percent.
“Georgia’s graduation rate continues to rise because our public school students have access to more opportunities than ever before,” State School 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.”
Other area school systems to join the 74 in the state with a 90 percent graduation rate or above were Calhoun City Schools — 97.6 percent, for Calhoun High School — and Gordon County Schools — 94.8 percent.
The graduation rate for Gordon Central High School was 98.2 percent, while Sonoraville High School’s was 92.4 percent.
For Polk County Schools the graduation rate was 80.5 percent — Rockmart High School’s was 81.5 percent and Cedartown High School’s was 79.7 percent.