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Gainesville, Hall County high school graduation rates are solid
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With a 2007 graduation rate of 81 percent, or 10 points above the state average, Gainesville High School has become a destination for some 40 school districts statewide "to learn more about our success," said campus principal Mike Kemp.

Gainesville High hasn’t always had such a stellar number. Last year’s graduation rate represents a 25 percent jump over the previous year’s mark, 64.6 percent.

Kemp credits the higher graduation rates to the school’s "credit-recovery lab," a program that lets students recover a class they failed with a grade of 60-69 in a traditional classroom.

Graduation reports aren’t so glowing nationwide.

A report issued Tuesday by America’s Promise Alliance found that 17 of the nation’s 50 largest cities, including Atlanta, had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent.

The report goes on to say that students in suburban and rural public high schools were more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools.

All Gainesville-Hall County high schools’ graduation rates are at least touching 60 percent, and most are a good bit higher.

Gainesville High has the highest rate, at 81 percent, with the state average at 71 percent. North Hall High School is close behind, at 80 percent.

East Hall didn’t make "adequate yearly progress" last year because it didn’t meet the graduation rate requirement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The rate must be 65 percent or higher, said Dana Tofig, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education.

Another way for schools to make adequate progress is for the rate’s three-year average to be 65 percent or higher.

In 2008, schools must have a 70 percent graduation rate to make adequate progress.

Will Schofield, superintendent of Hall County schools, said the district’s aim, of course, is to have all students graduate and "be work and/or college ready."

East Hall and Johnson high schools have started up "credit-recovery labs" this year with hopes of helping students make up credits needed to graduate.

East Hall principal Jeff Cooper has said he believes the "most powerful piece" of the program, which has about 200 students between both schools, has yet to be realized.

"We could bring them into the lab and remediate — catch them before they fail," he said.

Hall County schools has spent $157,000 on software for the labs.

Schofield said the district would like to expand the program to other high schools.

"We are closely watching our two pilot schools," he added. "We need to see results before making that kind of additional commitment."

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