Pushing the Graduation Rate

On the education front, schools in the Peach State will be opening their doors to students in about a week. This school year, Grady County education officials are putting high school students under the microscope in an effort to improve graduation rates.

While Grady County school teachers are busy planning their curriculum for the new school year, school officials are tackling the problem of getting more students to come to class and follow through to graduation day.

Steve Wooten, Superintendent of Grady County Schools, says, "The Georgia Department of Education looks at how many students started the 9th grade four years ago and how many graduated this past year and our rate is about 60 percent which means 40 percent of our students do not complete high school."

Tim Helms, principal at Cairo High School, says, "Those are the ones that we are concerned about and we're going to really focus on to see where these kids are going, why are they dropping out."

Officials are implementing new attendance policies this year and looking at what's going on in the classroom that may discourage kids from coming to school, which ultimately results in them dropping out, factors that Helms says keeps school systems under the microscope by state education officials.

Helms says, "They're looking to see if we make adequate yearly progress in our test scores in our student pass rates and graduation rates."

Incentive programs will also be implemented to encourage attendance, which Wooten says may be a small step that pays big.

Wooten says, "As students become more successful, more confident, they will see they can make it and they will stay in school. That's our ultimate goal, to get them graduated with high school diplomas."

The Grady County School Board is also implementing the "out of school youth program" with the state Department of Labor to help students who have dropped out get a high school diploma.