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Posted: January 14, 2014 10:30 p.m.

NCSS graduation rates up

Graduation rates reported for Newton High School and the Newton County School System have increased after an adjustment made by the Georgia Department of Education.

Newton High’s and the school system’s 2013 four-year cohort graduation rates now exceed the state average, after results were modified by the GaDOE.

According to information released by the school system Tuesday, Newton’s new adjusted graduation rate is 72 percent, which exceeds the state average. As a result of the change in NHS’ graduation rate, the school system’s four-year graduation rate jumped from 71 percent, which equaled the state’s average, to 73 percent, two points.

According to the state DOE, the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the "cohort" based on when a student first becomes a freshman. The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers.

When scores were initially released in December, Newton High School’s rate was below the state’s, while the district’s matched the state average. At that time, the school system’s four-year cohort graduation rate had dropped by five points — from 76 percent in 2012, to 71 percent; and Newton High’s rate had dropped by 16 points — from 83 percent in 2012, to 67 percent.

School system officials previously noted that a struggle to verify whether transfer students graduated caused both Newton High School’s and the school district’s 2013 graduation rates to drop.

"Upon reviewing the data, it was determined that Newton High School personnel had been unable to verify all of the recorded reasons for student withdrawal," the release stated. "As students withdraw, school staff must verify their enrollment in a receiving school in order to not count the student as a ‘dropout.’ This is exactly what occurred at Newton High—many students relocated, and their withdrawal reasons could not be verified. As a result, they were counted as ‘dropouts.’"

According to the release from the school system, personnel quickly began looking for information on students who transferred. At the district’s request, the state Department of Education granted a brief window of time for the school to update data. As a result, five additional points were added to Newton High School’s 2013 four-year graduation rate.All three high schools and the district now surpass the state average on the 2013 four-year graduation rate. Previously released data showed that Alcovy High School maintained its 74 percent completion rate from 2012 to 2013; and Eastside High School increased its graduation rate by one point in this year, from 87 percent in 2012 to 88 percent.

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