The Cherokee County School District’s graduation rate has hit a new high, with 90.82% of the Class of 2021 earning a diploma within four years of entering high school!
The four-year graduation rate both increased from last year’s 90.3% and exceeded the State average of 83.7%, according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Education released today. The State’s graduation rate represents a slight decline from 83.8% in 2020, but remains higher than the 82% rate in 2019 prior to the pandemic.
The rate is the second highest among metro Atlanta counties. Georgia, along with the rest of the United States, calculates graduation rates based upon a 4-year cohort methodology. CCSD has grown its graduation rate by nearly 19 percentage points in the nine years since the State began its use of the cohort model. Creekview HS reported CCSD’s top Class of 2021 graduation rate of 95%, with River Ridge HS achieving the highest gains rising to 93.2% for 2021 up from 88.9%.
“We’re proud of every student who graduates, and especially proud of our graduates who overcame the pandemic’s challenges to achieve this important accomplishment,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “Our increasing graduation rate also is a testament to the dedication of our teachers and staff, our students’ families, and our community partners and volunteers. Together, we are guiding the emerging generation to success, and your support is deeply appreciated.”
CCSD’s five-year graduation rate, which tracks those students who need additional time to graduate, also increased – to 92.3% for 2021 graduates, up from 88.9% in 2020. CCSD’s rate of students defined as “dropouts” by the State consistently remains low at 1 to 2%.
Some students in every year’s cohort need a little more time to graduate, such as when medical treatments or family emergencies temporarily halt their learning, Dr. Hightower noted, adding that he and the School Board remain dedicated to further improvement in the overall graduation rate.
Increasing the graduation rate is a top priority in CCSD’s Blueprint long-range strategic plan, with efforts focused on identifying new ways to ensure students remain engaged in learning and graduate prepared for future success. This school year that has included launching the new i-Grad Virtual Academy for students in Grades 9-12 to offer another choice for completing high school; and enrolling students in the first Career Pathway – cybersecurity -- for CCSD’s newly established Cherokee College & Career Academy, also known as C3 Academy. Two years ago, CCSD partnered with Mountain Education Charter High School to offer an improved evening high school program in the community, with a greater focus on mentoring, which is housed at Etowah East on the Etowah High School campus.
“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. Teachers and students have continued to succeed in the face of challenging circumstances. Of course, there is still work to do – we will continue our efforts to ensure every student sees the relevance of their high-school education and receives a diploma that directly prepares them for their future.”