ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s high school graduation rate has fallen to 67 percent based a new federally mandated calculation, state officials said Tuesday.
The state Department of Education released the figure for the first time publicly after months of preparing state lawmakers and other officials for the drop. Under the old calculation, the rate of students receiving diplomas had topped 80 percent, but officials say that number wasn’t an accurate picture of how many students actually finish high school in Georgia.
The new formula, which better accounts for dropouts, divides the number of graduates in a given year by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier.
For years, states could choose how they calculated graduation rates, creating inconsistent data across the country. The U.S. Education Department adopted a policy in 2008 that requires states to use a uniform way of measuring their graduation rates. For the first time, it will allow graduation rates to be compared across states.
States across the country have been bracing for plummeting graduation rates after most waited until the deadline last year to convert to the new calculation. Many states were using a formula that didn’t accurately track dropouts and transfers and didn’t ding schools if students took longer than four years to graduate.
States already have seen drops ranging up to 20 percentage points. Experts hope the changes will draw attention to the dropout issue and lead to resources being focused on the problem.
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