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Let's get the right numbers
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For the past three years, reports released by state education agencies have generally shown that test results for students in Newton County have been on the upswing.

These results have been hailed as major accomplishments in our education system..

But this week came the news that four-year cohort graduation rates had declined by 5 percentage points across the district. The largest decline was at Newton High School, which showed a jarring 16 percent drop.

Why? According to Newton County Schools Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, it is really due to the fact that when any student leaves a Newton County high school and school personnel cannot verify that the student has enrolled in another school, then that student is considered a "dropout.’’ Especially when students move out of state, Fuhrey said, it is challenging to track them.

Fuhrey pledged that the district will do everything it can to find out what the real graduation rate is, even if that means knocking on doors of relatives to find out where students have relocated.

We appreciate the fact that this verification may indeed be hard, but a clear picture is vital. Newton County needs to know where it stands via all measures of educational progress.

We urge Fuhrey to quickly provide the backup that is needed to ensure that this doesn’t happen next time around.

In order for our community to grow and prosper as we slowly come out of this economic mess we have been mired in, we need a strong, ever-improving school system.