-- Valdosta, Ga. -- April 11, 2012 --
Graduation rates for Georgia high schools are down over 10 percent on average.
The graduation rate at Lowndes High School used to be around 80%. Now it's around 67%. That's because of a new system that makes sure every student is accounted for.
The numbers at Lowndes reflect the same statistics around the state. The reason: A new federal rule that says you have to prove if a student withdraws from school. If you can't then they count as a drop out.
Dr. E. Steve Smith, the superintendent of the Lowndes County school system, said "It was unanticipated you know, and it's not a reflection of how many of our students are graduating from Lowndes High School. It's more of a reflection of the work that we need to do to be accountable for every student that withdraws from our school system and goes to another school."
He explains how students from Moody Air Force Base can skew the numbers.
Smith says "they may be transferring to California, they may be transferring to Alaska. So you know if we don't have a school in those states that request a transcript we don't have any documentation that they have gone there."
According to the superintendent it could be a few years before the schools are fully caught up to the new system.
There are just over ten thousand students in the Lowndes County school system.