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Graduation rates on the rise in Hall, Gainesville schools
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Both Hall County and Gainesville schools saw four-year graduation rates increase in 2013, continuing an upward trend from 2011.

Overall, Hall graduated 77.5 percent of students in 2013, up from 74.4 percent in 2012. North Hall High School had the highest rate, with 96.4 percent graduating.

“I think it’s made a big difference, some of the things we do,” North Hall High principal Joe Gheesling said.

“(Like) early identification of struggling students and working with parents as a team to try to help those students succeed. I think it’s paid off.”

The information was released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education.

The county numbers exceed the state percentage of 71.5 percent of students graduating, though the state also saw an increase from 69.7 percent in 2012.

“We have conscientious students, we have dedicated teachers, and we have determined principals,” said Eloise Barron, Hall’s assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

“I think we’re working hard, because we have gone to the four-year cohort rate, which means that you’ve got to do it in four years or not be counted as a graduate. So we’re really working hard to make that a reality.”

This is the third year the state has calculated the graduation rate using the adjusted four-year formula; the U.S. Department of Education requires this of all states.

“Under a more rigorous calculation method, the trend still shows that the percentage of our high school students graduating increases year to year,” Georgia School Superintendent John Barge said in a news release.

“Despite the economic challenges our districts are facing, we have more high school students graduating today than we have had in several years, which is a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers.”

Gainesville’s four-year graduation rate also jumped, to 70.1 percent for 2013 from 66.5 percent in 2012.

“We are pleased to see more of our students attaining this milestone that will open doors for colleges and careers,” said Jamey Moore, director of curriculum and instruction with Gainesville.

“It is very impressive to see what our schools have been able to do during this season of economic strain and unprecedented change being implemented by the Georgia Department of Education.”

Both nontraditional schools in the county saw an increase in graduation rates.

Hall’s Lanier Charter Career Academy had 18.2 percent graduate in 2012; 20.3 percent graduated in 2013. Gainesville’s Wood’s Mill Academy had 29.9 percent of students graduate in 2013, up from 26.9 percent in 2012.

“I think the graduation rate increase is reflective of building relationships,” Wood’s Mill principal Daryl White said.

“Building positive, professional relationships with kids and letting them know you care about them first as a person and second as a student.”

The four-year graduation rate is based on when a student first becomes a freshman and takes transfer students into account.

Georgia’s former graduation rate calculation included students who took more than four years to earn a high school diploma.

The state also released 2012 five-year graduation rates; Hall County had 310, or 75.1 percent, of five-year students graduate. Gainesville had 284 total five-year graduates in 2012, or 67.9 percent.

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