Georgia High School Graduation Rates Plummet After New Grading System

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Valdosta, Georgia- August 24, 2012

Valdosta High School's 2011 graduating class dropped close to 20% from the year earlier. Lowndes High School saw a roughly 15% decline. But that's just on paper. A new national grading system is requiring that all public schools prove that a student has transferred to another school otherwise pay the price of a lower graduation rate.

Fred Wetherington is a mamber of the Lowndes County Board of Education. He said "in the past, we had given those transcripts to a parent and just taken that information down about where that student was moving, where they were moving to, what high school. That does not count, that kid is counted as a dropout."

Another new change is that a student will have to graduate in four years, which some feel is a tall order to fulfill.

Wetherington went on to say "for whatever reason, if a kid can not have that happen on the four year finish line, we can't back off."

Not backing off can often mean a better social and economic environment in the future.

Scarlet Brown is the Valdosta City Schools Assistant Superintendent. She said "the majority of students that don't graduate stay within a 30 mile radius of where they dropped out of school. So it becomes not just an issue for the education but it becomes an issue for community agencies, it becomes an issue for law enforcement."

Public schools in Georgia have petitioned the Department of Education to allow for a fifth year to graduate, which has been approved.