TCSS graduation rate remains 86%; still above state average, but gap tightening

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Troup County School System’s graduation rate remained relatively stagnant but still above the state of Georgia average, according to new numbers released by the Georgia Department of Education.

TCSS graduation rate is 86%, just one-tenth higher than the 2022 number of 85.9%. Even the small change ended a recent trend, as the TCSS graduation rate had been 85.9% in 2022, 2021 and 2020. The state of Georgia’s 2023 graduation rate is 84.4%, an all-time high since the state began using the adjusted cohort calculation first required to be calculated in 2011 by federal law.

HOW THE SCORE IS CALCULATED

Georgia’s four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort graduating class. The cohort is adjusted by adding students who transfer in and subtracting students who transfer out.

TCSS & STATE OVERVIEW

While TCSS did not see a significant jump in 2023, the numbers have stayed consistent and are a far cry from where they were in 2017, when the graduation rate was in the 70-percentile range. 

“I think we are on a path where the graduation rates are going to begin to rise,” said Jonathan Laney, director of secondary education and CTAE.

Laney and Superintendent Brian Shumate said the goal is for TCSS to be above 90%. Both noted the work being done at the Troup County Career Center to help students who are behind or underperforming get back on track. 

“I appreciate the work, especially at the Career Center,” Shumate said. “There’s lots of credit recovery going on over there to get kids across the line in a four-year cohort.”

This year is the final graduating class that had a significant portion of their high school education impacted by COVID-19. Shumate said the learning loss experienced during that time was real and impacted TCSS and the rest of the country.

“The kids that are now seniors in high school were freshmen when the pandemic hit, and we’ve got to make sure that they’re on grade level and on track for graduation,” Shumate said. 

Over the last five years, TCSS’ graduation rate has been above the state average. However, the state continues to make up ground each year. Every year since 2018, the state has closed the gap. In 2018, TCSS’ graduation rate was 86.6% while the state percentage was 81.6%. Since then, the state has closed that 5-percentage gap to 1.6%.

“Relative to the state of Georgia, we’re about the middle of the pack,” Shumate said. “And the fact that you’re having some leveling statistically is probably somewhat normal, but I want us to continue to push forward. I would love to see our school district get above 90%, and we’re working hard to get there. So, is it concerning? We just watch it. We want to make sure that we don’t go backward at all and continue to move forward.”

A total of 107 Georgia school districts recorded graduation rates at or above 90%, and 43 districts recorded rates at or above 95%, according to the Georgia Department of Education. Georgia’s statewide graduation rate has increased by 14.7 percentage points since 2012.

“I’m incredibly proud of Georgia’s high-school seniors – and the teachers, leaders, and families who have supported them to produce these results,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a press release. “It’s important to remember that the positive news we’ve received lately – from this historic-high graduation rate to Georgia students beating the national average on the SAT – is more than just numbers. Every data point represents an actual student and new opportunities that have opened up for their future. I’m confident we’ll continue to see positive results as we invest in academic recovery and building a student-centered educational system.”

HIGH SCHOOL BREAKDOWN

Troup High School saw its graduation rate increase from 86.8% in 2022 to 88.2% in 2023. THS has seen its scores remain in the 86-88% range over the last five years.

Callaway High School saw a significant increase in 2023, jumping from 84.5% to 89.4%. CHS had the highest graduation rate of TCSS’ three high schools. Callaway’s jump put the school close to its 2020 — pre-COVID — graduation rate of 91.2%. 

LaGrange High School saw its score decrease from 88.7% in 2022 to 83% in 2023, the lowest number among the three TCSS high schools.

SUBGROUP SCORES

The Georgia Department of Education also breaks down graduation rates by subgroup.

In 2023, Black students (88.5%) graduated at a higher percentage than White students (86.0%), a trend that has remained since at least 2019.

The percentage of Black students graduating has increased every year since 2019, improving from 84.3% that year to the current rate of 88.5%. 

The percentage of White students graduating increased from 84.7% in 2022 to 86% in 2023, but over the last five years TCSS has actually seen a decrease in that subgroup.  In 2019, 87.8% of White students graduated.

The percentage of Hispanic students graduating has dropped every year since 2019, starting at 90% in 2019 and falling to 75% in 2023.

Economically disadvantaged students graduated at an 84.9% rate, an increase from 80.2% in 2022. The 84.9% is the highest percentage since at least 2019.

The graduation rate for students with disabilities was 75% in 2023, a number that has remained relatively stagnant since 2020.