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Special-needs, repeat students recorded as dropouts
Students must earn a 516 on graduation test to make AYP
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2011 Completion Rates for Adequate Yearly Progress

Gainesville High School: 87.3 percent
Wood's Mill High School: Does not use graduation rate for AYP
Chestatee High School: 92.4 percent
East Hall High School: 88.6 percent
Flowery Branch High School: 92.8 percent
Johnson High School: 95.4 percent
Lanier Charter Career Academy: 29.7 percent
North Hall High School: 94.2 percent
West Hall High School: 88.4 percent


All high schools in Hall County and Gainesville met the graduation rate needed for Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.

That's good news, considering the state target was for each school to have 85 percent of seniors graduate.

"Our real numbers are up 2 to 3 percent," Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. "We're graduating a lot more kids than we used to."

When preliminary AYP results were released over the summer, Gainesville High administrators weren't sure they would make it because their graduation rate was right on the line. But with summer school graduates, the rate rose high enough.

In order to graduate and count for AYP, students must earn a 516 on the graduation test and have the appropriate number of high school credits deemed necessary by the school system.

However, the term "graduation rate" is a bit misleading, Schofield contends.

"You have two graduation rates. You have the one for AYP and the one for seniors," said Kay Holleman, head of college counseling and graduation at Gainesville High School.

The graduation rate for AYP is a four-year cohort completion rate. It looks at the percent of students who enter a school in ninth grade and graduate on time four years later.

The second graduation rate Holleman mentions looks at the percent of seniors out of a class who graduate.

Until this year, that wasn't the case, Schofield said.

"If a child was in his fifth or sixth year and graduated, they got put into the mix also. They counted against the senior class (for AYP) but at some point, the system got to count them," he said.

"What this new completion rate does is, if you don't graduate on time, you're never counted."

Michael Catledge, assessment and accountability consultant for Pioneer Regional Educational Service Agency, said students who take extra time to graduate and students who receive special education diplomas are considered dropouts by the state. The new completion rate calculation, different from that used for AYP, may cause state graduation rates to appear to decline because it does not count these groups of students, he said.

In Hall County, students who might need the extra time are recommended to transfer to Lanier Charter Career Academy. In the Gainesville system, the same goes for Wood's Mill High School. Both are nontraditional programs that allow students more scheduling flexibility and online class options to balance life and high school credits.

"For the school system, it's going to affect the graduation rate negatively if a student goes to Lanier (Charter Career Academy) and graduates in five years," Catledge said. "The way it's going to affect (the home school) is basically students can transfer to different schools, and the graduation rate goes with that student. If I transfer from Johnson to East Hall, I become part of the tabulation of East Hall's graduation rate.

"The big difference is it doesn't go up, their whole calculation changes because the cohort changes. They're not part of the calculation."