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Welcome back for another great year
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Students have returned to the classroom, embarking on what promises to be another exciting school year. We are proud of our students, teachers and parents for their dedication and determination to making education a number one priority. We are thrilled to announce that once again RCPS has met the state and federal requirements for Adequate Yearly Progress, the accountability measurement established in 2001 by the No Child Left Behind Act. This is the fourth consecutive year that we have achieved this distinction. In addition, every individual school in our system achieved AYP. We are one of only two major metro Atlanta systems that did so. While we are pleased with these achievements, we recognize that there is more work to be done. Our goal is that every child performs at his or her highest level, that every child achieves his or her dreams, and that every child develops the necessary skills to become a lifelong learner. We have experienced impressive results thus far and look forward to implementing new programs that are in line with our five-year Strategic Plan.

Moreover, we are excited to report that our graduation rate is 81.3 percent, the highest it has been in the era of accountability. There is a complex formula to determine the actual graduation rate; however, it reflects the percentage of entering 9th grade students who progress through high school and graduate within a specified time period. RCPS dropout rate is 2.7 percent.

Perhaps even more amazing is that this has been achieved in the face of mounting challenges. Research consistently indicates that student achievement decreases as the percentage of economically disadvantaged students increases. However, that is not the case here at RCPS. Why? Because we are diligently and effectively pursuing specific goals with specific plans of action to produce real, tangible results.
During the 2001-2002 school year, our system was 27 percent economically disadvantaged with a graduation rate of 72.6 percent. Today, our system is 58 percent economically disadvantaged with a graduation rate of 81.3 percent. We are defying the norm.

Our innovative approach to credit recovery, our expanded Rockdale Virtual Campus, Rockdale Open Campus, Rockdale Career Academy, Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, and our partnerships with post-secondary institutions provide students with more learning opportunities than ever before. Also, we are committed to providing enrichment opportunities for high achievers while increasing rigor in all areas.

We believe that every child deserves the opportunity for a quality education. We also understand that children are unique; therefore, to be able to reach every child, we must be creative, flexible and willing to work hard in the face of challenges.

But we cannot do this without the support of parents and community. We are so very grateful for the volunteers who donate their time and money. If you would like to make a difference in the life of a child, we invite you to help by becoming a mentor, a Partner in Education or a financial contributor to the Foundation for Excellence in Education or the Academic Booster Club.

Dr. Samuel T. King is the Superintendent of the Rockdale County Public Schools.