According to the Georgia Department of Education, these new requirements will assure Georgias students graduate high school college and work ready.
According to a study by the Georgia Partnership For Excellence In Education, The Economics of Education, 2nd Edition, Chickamauga City Schools rank sixth (88.1 percent) and Walker County Schools rank 170th (53.9 percent) out of 177 systems categorized by preliminary 2006-07 high school graduation rates.
We are no longer setting high expectations for just some students, state Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox said in a press release. As a state, we are saying that all students can learn at a high level.
CLICK HERE FOR RELATED LINK: The Finish Line Calculator: Tracking Graduation Success in Americas High Schools -- This online tool allows you to see projected graduation rates for individual school districts, states, and the United States as a whole. It measures the likelihood that an 9th grader will complete high school on time.
These new requirements will set the minimum standard that must be achieved by high school students to graduate. Formerly, the state operated under a tiered system that allowed different expectations of different students. This will no longer be the case.
Under the new requirements, all students must achieve 23 credits to graduate. These credits will include four credits in mathematics, four credits in language arts/English, credits in science, three credits in social studies, one credit in health/physical education, three credits in foreign language and/or fine arts and/or career/technical/agricultural education, and four electives.
Many people are wondering what effect this raising of the bar will have on future graduation rates for the county.
We are not making any excuses for our performance but we must have the support of our community to fix it, LaFayette High School Principal Roger Hibbs said.
Chickamauga City Schools Superintendent Melody Day attributes part of their success to parental support.
A supportive home helps any child. Although some parents may not be able to assist their children with their work they offer encouragement and interest, she said.
People must understand that graduation is a four-year process that cant be fixed overnight, Hibbs said. Our parents, business leaders and government officials all must adopt the attitude that quitting is not an option for us to be successful.
Hibbs referred to the attitude that many people have regarding the need of a high school education.
It is ridiculous for this day and time to think that an education is not important, he said.
Graduation rates of neighboring area school systems spanned the upper and lower parts of the rankings. Trion City Schools ranked first (96.7 percent), while Catoosa County Schools ranked 89th (69.1 percent), Chattooga County Schools 118th (65.6 percent) and Whitfield County Schools 142nd (61.1 percent).
According to the study, Georgia has defined a graduate as a student who leaves high school with a Regular Diploma (excludes Certificates of Attendance and Special Education diplomas) in four years plus that years summer graduates. The graduation rate reflects the percentage of students who entered the ninth grade in a given year and were in the graduating class four years later. This rate is used for both the GOSA (Georgia Office of Student Achievement) Report Card and as a part of the annual Adequate Yearly Progress determinations.
The graduation rates in the study do not include summer graduates, and are therefore considered preliminary.
According to Cox, these new requirements reflect changes being mandated by the No Child Left Behind policy of the federal government. This policy has issued higher achievement standards for all students. However, many educators are concerned with this policy. Many feel this federal initiative tends to lump all students into the same mix without any regard to individualized accommodations.
This concern seems to be supported by the recent changes in graduation requirements. Students will no longer be able to graduate with anything other than a regular education diploma.
It is asinine to think that certain students are provided accommodations by laws passed by the Congress, Hibbs said. Why arent these provisions being reflected in these requirements?
Walker County Schools coordinator of secondary curriculum Linda Barker said, On the surface, every student must reach these requirements to graduate.
The state had previously offered specialized programs that allowed students to participate in a path that was tailored to their specific goals. This included provisions for special needs, vocational and academically advanced students.
This is no longer the case.
Day doesnt think the Chickamauga system would be affected much by the change in the graduation requirements.
We dont really anticipate much of a difference for us, she said. We currently require 28 credits for graduation from our students. However, the one diploma track will certainly be a change.
Regardless of what students are going to do after high school, they must have a strong core of classes in mathematics, English, social studies and science, Cox said. Then, they can use their electives to personalize their education, whether they are bound for the work world, higher education or both.
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