The four-year graduation rate for the Cherokee County School District improved for its class of 2013.
The district's rate, which also surpassed the state average, rose to 78 percent in 2013, up from 72.6 percent for 2012. The rate is also tied for the second-highest for a metro Atlanta school system, the district said on Wednesday.
Cherokee's 2013 four-year rate and its 2012 five-year rate of 76.1 percent were both higher than the state's 2013 four-year rate of 71.5 percent and its 2012 five-year rate of 71.6.
However, district staff stresses that the inverse of the rate is not a drop-out rate.
The rates do not factor in students who take more than five years to graduate, who choose to receive a GED or join the military, move out of the district and do not send specific withdrawl/transfer documents to district staff and who receive a special education diploma.
It's the third year in which the state has implemented a more stringent formula to calculate rates. The cohort now starts when a student is a fresham, unlike the previous calculation that defined a cohort upon graduation and included students who took more than four years to graduate.
"Every student who graduates should be commended for this achievement, and we support students who may need more time to reach this most important goal because of other challenges in their lives," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank Petruzielo said in a press release.
The superintendent pointed to the district's ACE Academy, Polaris Evening School and C3 Academy as proof of the district's "long-standing and continued focus on providing academic choices to ensure graduation is attainable for every student.""Graduation cannot be achieved by students alone, and we applaud the parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, support staff, business partners and volunteers who together prepare our students for commencement and success in the next phase of their lives," he added.
Not content with resting on its 15-year success of implementing strategies to "ensure students complete high school with outstanding college and career readiness," the district said it will continue to review methods to improve its graduation rates.
An ad-hoc Graduation Rate Committee, which was put in place earlier this year, will soon complete its review of state and local graduation rates, data tracking practices and state rules and what current efforts are in place to increase graduation rates.
It will release recommendations on graduation rate reporting and other methods that can be adopted across the district.