DeKalb’s graduation rate under the new state formula: 58.65%

In the past, DeKalb’s published graduation rate was usually in the 80th percentile.  But that number was simply calculated using the number of graduates vs the number of seniors who began that school year.  It was hardly an indicator of our system’s overall ability to graduate every student who begins high school in DeKalb.

The new formula, mandated by the state, calculates the percentages of students who finish high school in four years. (Soon, the formula will also allow for calculations for graduating students in five years.)

The AJC reported that Under new formula, Georgia graduation rate reset to 67.4 percent:

Nearly a third of all Georgia students fail to finish high school in four years – a fact unveiled Tuesday as states come on board with a new single system for calculating high school graduation rates.

Under the new federally mandated formula, Georgia’s 2011 graduation rate has been reset at 67.4 percent. That’s well-below the 80 percent graduation rate that the old formula produced — an accomplishment politicians have pointed to as a bright spot in the state’s academic record and a reason for companies to do business in Georgia.

The new calculation means Georgia’s graduation rate trails some of its Southern neighbors. In some metro-Atlanta schools, roughly half of freshmen are graduating within four years.

Below are the published 2011 graduation rates for DeKalb High Schools vs the same year using the new formula:

Arabia Mountain:   NA/85.71
Avondale HS:   56.6/39.89
Cedar Grove HS:   76.3/57.27
Chamblee Charter HS:   88.3/81.67
Clarkston HS:   72.8/54.74
Columbia HS:   80.4/66.57
Cross Keys HS:   85.1/48.34
Alternative Night School:   NA/2.46
Alternative School:   NA/5.88
DeKalb Early College Academy:   100/92.86
DeKalb School of the Arts:   96.9/96.83
DeKalb Transition School:   NA/0
DeKalb/Shadowrock PsychoEd Center:   NA/0
Druid Hills HS:   83.2/62.13
Dunwoody HS:   87.9/80.84
East DeKalb Spec. Ed. Center:   NA/0
Elizabeth Andrews HS:   38.5/21.1
Gateway to College Academy:   12.2/7.14
Lakeside HS:   87.8/62.79
Lithonia HS:   75.1/59.4
Margaret Harris Comprehensive School:   NA/0
McNair HS:   71.1/53.02
Miller Grove HS:   83.4/74.31
MLK Jr. HS:   75.2/53.64
Redan HS:   84.3/78.79
Southwest DeKalb HS:   83.8/66.73
Stephenson HS:   86.8/79.21
Stone Mountain HS:   86.3/72.88
Towers HS:   64.2/43.9
Tucker HS:   82.6/72.42
UHS of Laurel Heights:   NA/0

See the numbers for yourself:
Click this link to read more.
Click this link
to search for the data for individual schools.

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53 Responses to DeKalb’s graduation rate under the new state formula: 58.65%

  1. Couple of things: This data reinforces the blog’s long-held belief that schools like Lakeside are not graduating, nor even following nearly half of their students. Many times we have raised the red flag asking the question, “How can Lakeside begin with over 500 freshmen and only graduate 300 or fewer seniors?” This data shows the truth. Many are not graduating in four years. But Lakeside does not track individual student progress, so we are uncertain whatever becomes of the students who don’t finish at Lakeside. Perhaps they finish in five years? (We are told that many of these freshman counted are actually “freshmores” who are more or less repeating ninth grade.) Or perhaps many of those who choose an AYP transfer to Lakeside as freshmen return to their home schools? Perhaps some move? Perhaps some transfer to private schools? Certainly all of the above occurs, but we have no way of knowing for certain, as no one maintains data on this issue.

    Second: As you can see, Destiny Academy is not used whatsoever in calculating graduation rates for DeKalb. This was a big point driven by Jay Cunningham: He swore, “Destiny improves our graduation rates for AYP.” They do not. In fact, Destiny may hurt graduation rates, as many of these students are transfers from other DeKalb high schools who now do not count as graduating in DeKalb in four years. We would be better off to have small special programs within our schools to improve graduation rates. Perhaps they are taken off the rolls completely and this is how they help our graduation rate? Again, we have no way of truly knowing. Although we have a massive technology department, collecting and utilizing data is not one of their strong suits.

  2. Anonmom says:

    Yes, as far as Lakeside goes, this data reflects that the no child left behind transfers are not “good” for “graduation” success….. LHS has “received” into it’s classes at least every other year since about 2008… (memory here so may be a bit off). Also, for this year’s freshman class, the “official” count is that LHS did not, absolutely, did not “receive” but, alas, the 8th grade “departing” class at Henderson “received” twice — once as 6th graders — about 125 kids and again as 8th graders, I think almost as many kids — such that at Henderson they were 5 full teams. So, despite “promises” that none” of those who were “received” at HMS as “AYP” transfers would go to LHS, how many actually were allowed to go and are “de facto” at LHS any way …..? The numbers really are not accurate. Therefore, the statistics for graduation are hard to follow. That being said, many kids fail to “make it through LHS … it’s a “tough” environment .. 7 period days are hard. 38 kid classes are hard for the kids, they are hard for the teachers. It is not a “recipe” for success. The kids that do well are self motivated, self starters who don’t really need “teachers” — they can “do it” “on their own” “under the radar screen” and are “easy” students.

  3. bullet says:

    The question is what Redan and Stephenson are doing better than the other High Schools in the county. Notably Lakeside and Druid Hills are both around 62%. That’s horrible.

  4. concernforthekids says:

    The central office finally has the right person managing MIS, Mr. Brantley, to help with student tracking.
    For years, the central office has employed incompetent administrators (which many are still employed) who do NOT have the skill set or expertise to successfully manage their departments.
    We have spent millions in salaries to the “F&F” of our county which hurts our children because their is no ACCOUNTABILITY at the central office and jobs are performed miserably.
    We should NOT accept, “We were given wrong information” or “We didn’t know” from our administrators and board members!
    Get rid of the WASTE and Friends and Family at the central office and let’s get our school system working efficiently and affectively for the students and the taxpayers!
    For instance, if a board memebr can not pronounce the word SPLOST, (many members call it SPLOSH), you should not be a board member. A simple understanding of the English language would help! This is NOT Racism, it is Reality! REALLY!
    Friends and Family within the school system means F&F’s for the students, just look at the grades.
    Have a good day!

  5. dishatlanta says:

    The job market barely has opportunity for people who don’t finish college much less high school. DCSD should be ashamed that it can’t manage to graduate closer to 90% of ALL students. I understand that 100% is impossible but for goodness sake what is going on at Avondale, Cross Keys, Tower and any other school that can’t even break 60%

  6. I hope someone will look into the causes here. I want to know WHY our DeKalb schools aren’t doing better with this. I understand there may be some issues with the data, if it doesn’t account for transfers, or for kids finishing in 5 years – but those are problems that should affect the numbers for ALL schools. However, if you pull some of the top high schools from other metro area counties, they doing so much better than Lakeside’s appalling 62.79%:

    City of Decatur, Decatur: 89.39%
    Cobb, Lassiter: 89.63%
    Fulton, Northview: 89.38%
    Gwinett, Parkview: 87.28%
    APS, Early College High School at Carver: 97.4%

  7. pscexb says:

    I am extremely wary about how this data was calculated and subsequently interpreted. For example, the number of apartment complexes can have a tremendous impact on the graduation rate as those residents transition out of housing (thus schools) far more than homeowners. I thought at one time that someone mentioned the Lakeside has one of the highest concentrations of apartment complexes in DCSS which could also impact their number. The Stephenson area has one of the lowest concentrations of apartment complexes which also probably impact their number. Too bad they eliminated information about apartment complexes in school clusters from the DCSS website several years ago.

    This is a nationwide problem regarding how to measure graduation rates. Looking at the difference between the entering number of freshman and graduating seniors after 4 years is flawed in many ways. Using this method, it is possible for some schools to have a graduation rate over 100% if more students transfer in after the freshman year with most freshmen remaining to graduate. Unless there is more information about the individual students along with tracking, we are left to guess how to interpret the data. On the other hand, if everyone is using a consistently flawed method for calculating this, it does provide some baseline.

    Food for thought, the 4 year graduation rate for Georgia Tech is about 33% (this is per US News & World Report). This does not take into consideration students that either ‘flunked out’ or transferred to another college and graduated. It also does not take into consideration co-op students that typically finish in 5 or more years. Does their graduation rate make them a less desirable school? I don’t think so. Their 6 year rate is about 78%. Considering the quality of education one gets at this school along with the ROI one gets for receiving a Tech degree, this may be a better measure to consider.

  8. DoneWithDekalb says:

    I took my son out of Dekalb County public schools in his sophomore year when I realized that as a “non-gifted” kid, he was basically being warehoused in huge classes and was learning very little. The teachers did their best, but when you have so many kids that you can’t fit enough desks in your classroom, there’s just so much you can do for them.

    I suppose my son will count against the graduation rate for his former high school. I think that’s pretty apropos as the Dekalb County school system did very little to ensure that he would receive a high-quality education and are certainly not responsible in any way for his successful graduation in four years.

  9. Aghast Again says:

    Dr. Lewis once referred to someone who said the same things about apartments as you, as being ‘prejudiced’.

  10. Completely off-topic: But Ronald Ramsey is in this “inner circle.”
    This guy:
    is also in the same “inner circle:”

  11. Anonymous says:

    @DoneWithDekalb, if only more parents of the students in the general level classes were more like you! There are so many disruptive kids in the general level classes. The teachers cry out for help from the administration and from the parents of these children, but receive very little assistance. In some cases, the parents have absolutely no control and we know not to expect much help from the administration. As teachers, we try to reach out to the kids and explain why they should do homework and be quiet but most of the time this will only improve behavior temporarily. The main problem in these classes is we as a society should face the fact that every kid is not college bound. Once we understand this reality, maybe we can create some courses in which the kids will genuinely be interested and the constant talking and disruption will be a thing of the past because of the enthusiasm for learning. I am allowed to dream, right?

  12. Anom says:

    Did you hear the number of verbs Mr. Brantley split at the Board Meeting Monday night. He may be a Geek but he is far from a systemwide , innovative planner for instructionall technology. He was Not elected by the peole but hired by the Supt. to the tune 0g $164,000 per year with a BS degree. Come on Chemistry and math teachers. Step up to the plate and get a real check. Top heavy..even more so now.

  13. Miss Management says:

    LOL! The PBI — Preacher Bureau of Investigations is quoted in that article! I just fell out! The PBI!!!

  14. Anonmom says:

    I pulled a gifted student out of LHS mid-year junior year from stuffed classes — he had a 3.7999 gpa in his gifted/ap classes and is now enrolled in a state school (not georgia) engineering curriculum and appears to be headed towards graduating in 4 years with a BS in engineering from said state school. LHS was not for him… he needed teachers and smaller class sizes and did not need to be warehoused in classes of 38 for AP history and in English class with 25 kids (the AP class this year has 38). He couldn’t move in the halls and didn’t have time to eat lunch. He had things stolen from his locked locker and never got them back. It’s crazy. In private school there are only 15 kids in these classes — the teachers actually, all, really care about the kids — we’ve hit one or 2 in 4 years of being private who don’t care whereas at LHS we only hit 2 or 3 who really did, genuinely, care (maybe not so much their fault — it’s hard to care with classes of 38 and 6 periods a day of them — at private school they also have 2 planning periods a day with the other classes with only 15 kids in them). The schedule in private school rotates so that they have study halls and don’t have the same class in the same time slot — they only have 6 classes, including an elective — not the 7 that they have at LHS .. it’s grueling. Some of the stats may be revealing of the difference between the 6 and 7 period days and between the block schedule and the non-block schedule. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to track what happens to a child from the start of 9th grade through the end of the 4th year 4 years later… we have computers and we track everything else. I’ve pulled more than one child out from DCSS for high school and they haven’t been terribly concerned about where I was taking them.

  15. Anon says:

    If you’ve got anything that can directly link RR to to the inner circle, please forward it to blog monitors…..

  16. Miss Management says:

    Oh thank you for this link! I now have a new favorite blog! Pimp Preacher! Investigations by the PBI! I love this blog!!

    This post is particularly fun to read:

  17. Kim says:

    Cathy’s essay below about her journey to self-worth and education at Cross Keys is a 360 degree view of how challenging the path through high school is for many of our youth. With the help of a loving and dedicated CK faculty and with exposure to Athena’s Warehouse empowerment programs and inspiring volunteers, young women like Cathy in our poorest communities get a view into a future they’ve never imagined or been exposed to in their circles.

    One of nine children, Cathy watched her older sisters lose their educational opportunities through teen pregnancies. As the first in her family history to graduate from high school, Cathy shows how positive change can be achieved through exposure to development opportunities and mentorship by women role models.

    I’m afraid that the realities behind the low graduation rates among our populations are very stark and not really in the scope of what our schools can address. All I demand of our public systems is that they provide equity in capital distribution (facilities and amenities) and equal access to quality curriculum options to these students. I don’t expect DeKalb to change the social realities – just treat all students equitably in budgets and programs.

    Engagement by organizations like Athena’s Warehouse and other similar groups can make a huge difference on the social and empowerment side of the effort. Please consider volunteering with or supporting such an organization. I have seen the results of their efforts first-hand and they are changing lives forever for better with valuable information and loving mentoring. But I should just let Cathy talk …

    “Proud of being a woman”

  18. Hey Anon. (And I thought it was suggested you not use that moniker any more.)

    Here’s some evidence. I’m sure there’s more, ’cause a lot about Senator Ramsey is apparently kept from the public.
    (And even is in the dark about Ramsey’s employment with Dekalb!)

    From the old Dekalb School Watch blog:

  19. And didn’t Ronald Ramsey bring Eddie Long to New Birth and set him up as pastor and self-appointed bishop? I’m sure many readers of this blog can confirm this.

  20. DoneWithDekalb says:

    @Anonymous (4/12 6:40 pm), I understand the point you’re making, but please don’t reinforce the perception that if a kid doesn’t test out as “gifted”, then he/she must be a subpar student and won’t be going to college. My son has a mild learning disability and does not perform well on standardized tests, thus has never qualified for gifted classes. He is a motivated, well-behaved kid who just needed a little extra help in order to do well – something he was not able to get in Dekalb County public schools. Since I have moved him to a private school where he is taught in a style that plays to his strengths, he is doing very well and is currently making his college plans.

    I know there are a lot of kids with behaviorial problems in the general ed classes and that those kids make it very difficult for teachers to provide effective instruction. However, there are also plenty of kids like my son who can do very well, just given a chance. It is those kids who are really losing out in our public schools.

  21. Teacher Reader says:

    You are right on. If your child isn’t gifted the quality of education he/she will receive is significantly lower than the gifted kids. This is why I worked my tail off to get as many kids as I could to qualify for gifted who were very smart. I knew that they’d be left out of the excitement of learning if left in the average classes.

    I am glad that you realized this and were able to get your son out. I wish that more parents would realize this and begin to scream and yell!

  22. Just a Mom says:

    I don’t doubt your experience but my student has 4 AP classes this year at Lakeside ranging in size from 20 – 24. Six of their 7 teachers this year have been great and really seem to look at them as a person, with thoughts/ideas, not just a kid in a seat. Of course we have to speak in general terms, but we are having a great year! I would hate for everyone reading this to not hear another side.

  23. September says:

    My non-gifted kid just finished a master’s degree. So, if your kid isn’t labeled “gifted,” try not to worry too much. It would have been nice to be in some of those “special” classes with the really motivated teacher and “extra fun” activities, but when you are in with the regular kids, you learn how to connect with real people. The reality is that most of us are not gifted.

    If you are concerned about what your child is learning in school, make an appointment with your child’s guidance counselor. Ask about the classes that your child is taking. Find out what else is being offered. My daughter did get to take some AP classes and it turned out that she also qualified for joint enrollment at Georgia Perimeter. That guidance counselor also helped her get into the right math class and it really helped. I learned about those opportunities only because I took the time to meet with the counselor. I know that they can’t fix every problem, but I got good help when I went in and asked for it.

    As for discipline, again, ask the school to do something about the problems you see. Believe me, that teacher with the class of 38 students wants the disruptions to stop, too. Our children have a right to learn. They have a right to attend school in a safe environment. Students who are chronically disruptive should be offered instruction in an alternative setting. We don’t do a disruptive student any favors by ignoring or glossing over the problem. Learning in an alternative setting may be just what some of these students need to earn that diploma on time.

  24. anon says:

    Since my oldest began at LHS, LHS is on its 3rd principal so there’ve been a number of changes at the school. I hope for the community’s sake that there’s stability in the current leadership. I don’t think you can run a blessed thing with leadership changing every 2.5 years…. That being said, I think the largest reason for LHS’s really poor showing in these stastics is that the class upon which I think these numbers are based was my son’t class (these are numbers I know pretty well because they so appalled me and they have been the ones that have been bantered around alot — the class of 2010). This class received a large influx of AYPs I think as freshman that packed the halls and rendered them very difficult to move in… the school, it’s cafeteria and bathrooms, lockers, etc. was built for 1300 and was up to about 1700 — the kids coming in were coming from envirnments where they’re were much less prepared than the kids coming from Henderson, which was the feeder school. Further, what many don’t know, is that there are something like 55 or 60 languages spokne in homes at LHS and nearly as many countries represented. The ESOL program, at least at the time, was to transition the kids to age-based programs in English after 6 weeks — they’re really weren’t ready. There are also a number of apt. complexes and when I pulled my junior out because there was so much upheaveal and unhappy teachers taking things out on kids (my perception), they didn’t even ask where he was going or what he was doing (again my perception and recollection) so the tracking of what happened to kids upon departure (a core part of these new stats) was poor and the turnover in the past 3-4 years has been tremendous. My hope is that there is now some stability that the school hasn’t seen in a very long time and maybe this new post-AYP/NCLB era will be better…….I do know that there are many kids, more girls than boys, that have great experiences there.

  25. murphey says:

    AP classes at our high school are open to all, gifted or not, magnet or not.

    There are two schools of thought about access to AP classes. One is that only those students whose record predicts success in these college level classes should be encouraged to take them. The other is that exposure to a college level class is good, even if the student does poorly in the class and/or on the exam.

  26. bullet says:

    Tracking may be an issue, but there’s nothing else you mentioned that’s terribly different from other schools in the district and some have it much worse.

  27. anon says:

    I agree — I think that’s part of what’s really wrong with the system as a whole.

  28. Mercy Reaid says:

    Destiny Academy has changed names so many times, it is hard to keep up with it. There are exiting programs within the DCSS that serve the same purpose. But where could former, retired administrators draw a full salary? We have to look after friends and family.

  29. Gardenerontheside says:

    It would be really interesting to compare the graduation rates to the college remediation rates and see who is graduating people to just graduate them.

  30. Eli says:

    It is the children who are crying out for help. Won’t any of the adults come to their senses and find a solution. The childish battles between adults in this county are robbing children of the adulthoods they deserve. And, the ignorant property taxpayers are led to believe that the investment they are making will secure a strong future for the county and all of those who choose to live here. If they don’t have kis, then they don’t follow school news, so it si up to us to educate our own friends and family.

    The drop-out / move-on / go away / transfer crisis starts in elementary school. Too many choices that all end up offering the same, basic, poor quality education for some and the lifetime stigma of failure or ridicule for the rest.

    Gifted in Georgia means nothing because this is a school system that has been caught cheating on tests. Your child is labeled gifted likely because someone will be giving money to the district for it. Gifted is just another way for them to divide and conquer. In a state ranked 48 out of 50, you are gifted if you have all your teeth and did not marry your cousin.

    The real problem (or one of them) is letting the absolute worst performing students transfer first when their schools fails to make AYP. So, unlike the Ga. Tech example where the school is demanding and difficult and only accepts the top performers, we “reward” the worst performing Tite I children by putting them on busses for hours each day, away from their friends for the privledge of realizing that their new school is exactly like their old school expect now they are in a new environment and are likely treated like they do not belong. Since Title I dollars do not follow the student, they may not even get the exta help they need that Title I is supposed to pay for. And communities are left with schools filled with kids they have no connection with whatsoever.

  31. Eli says:

    If teachers don’t care about kids, they should n’t be teaching. Find another profession.

    7 periods of anything in high school is nothinig compared to the harsh reality of the real world without a high school diploma.

    Then again, I’m sorry if you don’t like your job. I’m not particularly fond of mine, either. That doesn’t mean you can get away with not doing. We’re not paying you to care – that’s the parent’s job. We’re paying you to teach! If you can do that, the kids will respond and the caring will take care of itself!

  32. Eli says:

    If there truly are any apartments near Lakeside,they are more likely called “townhomes” and the rent is more than the average family in DeKalb can afford. And, if these townhomes do exist, they are likely filled with the families who used to live in homes near Lakeside but were foreclosed upon. Only later will they learn that their fancy homes and condos are not worth nearly what their recent tax assessment told them they were worth due to their superior school. And that cell tower might not help, either.

  33. Eli says:

    You can’t remove a child from a regular classroom and suggest an alternative setting (like what???) unless you inform the parent and gain consent. good luck with that.

  34. Eli says:

    Moving a child with a behavior problem out of his comfort zone of his/her own neighborhoods, shipping him/her across town and then shipping him back each night doesn’t sound like very good action plan. If they didn’t have one before, I’m sure parent and chidl had one aftrwards.

  35. loveliveoak says:

    @Eli – Sorry, but you obviously have not driven down Pleasantdale Rd.

  36. Eli says:

    If they were doing that then they are even failing there, too.

  37. T wise says:

    that is exactly why I am a former dekalb parent….

  38. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I have looked around a bit on the internet and seen a few drops in other states. But alot of other states were already using this model of calculating graduation rates. It would be interesting to see how and if it effected other states, nationwide?

  39. Miss Management says:

    LOL – “In a state ranked 48 out of 50, you are gifted if you have all your teeth and did not marry your cousin.”

    At any rate, the demand to transfer the lowest performers from the poorest, worst schools first is a federal mandate under NCLB, or ESEA as Obama now calls it. Can’t pin that one on DeKalb or GA. That’s Obama and Arne Duncan, Obama’s Education Sec. But, I’m sure they’ll say it’s George Bush’s fault, since he came up with NCLB. (Why hasn’t Obama chucked it? Why doesn’t Obama understand? I guess he’s happy with his girl’s private schooling.)

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