The percentage of Coweta County School System high school students graduating on-time was 89.3 percent for the class of 2021.
That reflects a decrease in the four-year graduation rate of 2.3 percent from 2020’s 91.6 percent. Coweta County’s four-year graduation rate was 5.6 percent higher than the state of Georgia’s rate, which also decreased slightly (0.1 percent) from 2020 to 2021, according to a graduation report released by the Georgia Department of Education on Thursday.
The Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate – also called the on-time graduation rate – measures the percentage of students who enter high school together as freshmen (the “cohort”) who then go on to earn a diploma within four years. The calculation of the rate adjusts for student transfers.
Students who don’t graduate in that cohort may still go on to meet graduation requirements with additional semesters of coursework. Coweta County’s five-year graduation rate (the percentage of students who graduate in five years or less) rose to 92.8 percent in 2021, an increase of 4 percentage points.
The slight decrease in the four-year rate was seen in other communities across Georgia and the nation as well, and may reflect some impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, among other factors.
“Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to see Georgia's graduation rate holding steady," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Combined with the class of 2021's increases in ACT and SAT scores, this is an encouraging indicator about the work being done in public schools.”
All three Coweta County high schools showed slight decreases in their 2021 graduation rates. Northgate High School posted a 2021 graduation rate of 92.0 percent, East Coweta High a rate of 89.2 percent and Newnan High a rate of 87.5 percent.
“I am pleased that our graduation rates remain well above the state average and higher than our pre-2020 rates,” Superintendent Evan Horton said. “The last year posed a number of impacts on student learning, and we have directed increased resources towards that. But I am proud of the hard work of our students and teachers despite the many challenges they have faced.
“Though our schools were open for face-to-face learning throughout the year, we did have a larger percentage of students in virtual learning environments, and that had an effect on student performance in some areas,” Horton added.
Horton noted that all schools are focused on addressing those impacts. Short-term federal funds available to Coweta County are dedicated largely to additional teaching personnel, tutoring and other initiatives that address learning loss and increased student support, for example.
Both Georgia and Coweta County graduation rates have seen overall increases since the state began using the four- and five-year “cohort graduation rate” in 2021. Coweta County’s graduation rate has remained consistently above state averages during that period, despite having higher standards for graduation than most Georgia school systems.
Coweta high schools have used a number of strategies and supports to increase graduation rates throughout that time, including:
• Relevant and challenging instruction by high-quality teachers.
• Individual graduation plans for each student which are closely monitored by faculty.
• Online credit recovery opportunities for students who encounter difficulty in classes, and content-based support and Saturday school opportunities.
• Tutoring available during the day and before and after school.
• Students-support services outside of the classroom including counseling and staff advisors, online facilitator, ELEVATE Coweta Students and community mentors.
• ELEVATE Coweta Students partnerships working with the most at-risk students.
• Screening for students in math and ELA starting as they transition from eighth to ninth grade and continuing each grading period throughout a student's time in high school.
• Emphasis on ninth grade readiness and careful scheduling of students
• Innovative scheduling opportunities, including literacy and math focus as well as accelerated and advanced learning opportunities through the Central Educational Center, dual-enrollment opportunities and work-based learning.
• Organizing professional learning communities for teachers and monitoring the impact of those opportunities by department and content area.
• Content nights for parents to encourage family awareness and support for student’s graduation requirements, high school scheduling and academic content.