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Credit recovery boosts Hall grad rate
Program attributed to 1 of the highest scores in the state
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2009 graduation rates

Georgia 80.8%
Chestatee High School 89.1%
East Hall High School 88.8%
Flowery Branch High 87.8%
Gainesville High School 81.3%
Lanier Career Academy 31.3%
Johnson High School 88.8%
North Hall High School 94.6%
West Hall High School 92.5%
Georgia Department of Education


Graduation rates in Hall County and across the state are up, and Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield attributes that increase in Hall to school credit recovery programs, among other factors.

Through online courses, students are able to make up classes they failed. And the system is beating the state graduation rate of 80.8 percent at all but one school.

Gov. Sonny Perdue stopped at North Hall High School on Tuesday to congratulate students for earning a 95 percent graduation rate, one of the highest in the state.

Statewide, the graduation rate climbed two percentage points over last year.

At North Hall, school staff say the credit recovery programs along with individual attention are key.

Graduation coach Jennifer Rudeseal said the district is using more online credit recovery programs, such as E2020.

"We found we can pinpoint and isolate particular topics," Rudeseal said. "In math for example, if a student is having a problem with just quadratics, we can isolate that in E2020 and just assign that for the student to work on."

The school purchased another program this year, USA Test Prep, which offers help on tests given statewide, such as the Georgia High School Graduation Test. The school also will continue to offer small group tutoring for students.

Johnson High School graduation coach Michael Parker said his school also is focusing on helping students pass the graduation test. Johnson boosted its rate to 88 percent this year, graduating about 50 more students than last year.

"It's not just the fact that they pass or fail, but we look at what areas they are the weakest," he said.

Parker said he sets the bar high for students.

"A lot of times, students may not have support at home, so they've never been expected to succeed," he said. "If you build a relationship where the expectation is high, the students usually rise up to the expectation."

In the Gainesville school system, the graduation rate finished at about 81 percent last year.

Educators in Georgia have to continue improving the rate to meet federal achievement benchmarks. The No Child Left Behind Law requires an 85 percent graduation rate by next year.

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said the estimated rate for 2010 changes daily.

"We're at about 70 or 71 percent right now, but we were at that rate at this time last year too. It's a climb," she said.

To improve graduation rates, Gainesville teachers are using early intervention to help at-risk students. They offer an enhancement class that is 42 minutes of extra help a week for reading and individual classroom work.

"Even in P.E. they are writing and reading during the enhancement period," said Kay Hollemann, head counselor at Gainesville High School.

The governor credited some of the statewide success to a program he sponsored that put graduation coaches in schools to work with students who are having trouble.

Schools in Hall County are looking at next year's school improvement plan, which includes goals such as improving attendance, test scores and graduation rates. The goals are modified each year.