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Graduation rate rivals state

With graduation within view for Pike County High School’s 229 seniors, administrators recently received good news about graduation rates from the Georgia Department of Education. Pike County schools rank 15th out of 183 school districts in Georgia with a graduation rate of 85.7, well over the state average of 67.4%. The new cohort graduation rate means 85.7% of the graduating class of 2011 graduated in four years, 12.2% required longer than four years and only 2.1% dropped out. The graduation rate was calculated using a new federally required formula to determine how many students make it through high school in four years. According to the AJC, some school system’s rates dropped significantly ‘“ Cross Keys in DeKalb County dropped from 85.1 to 48.34 when the new formula was applied ‘“ but Pike’s numbers stayed strong. ’While many districts witnessed significant declines, we maintained our graduation rate,’ said superintendent Dr. Michael Duncan. ‘This is due to several reasons ‘“ excellence in teaching and learning, a commitment to Response to Intervention and accurate student records.’ Pike County schools rank 41st out of Georgia’s estimated 365 high schools, not including special, alternative, magnet or charter schools. Principal Mike Maddox said the Pike County school system’s goal is to have a graduation rate of 90%. ’Our School District’s mission is to be highest academically achieving small school system in the state,’ he said. ‘Two years ago, based on writing and math skills, we were the highest performing small school system in Georgia with a graduation rate of 88%. We’re proud of our graduation rate. It gives us validation that our students are doing well.’ Maddox said one way to keep high school students from dropping out is to show them the value of a high school diploma and offer career-specific classes. He said it is important for the school to partner with Southern Crescent Technical College and offer skills-based classes for students through dual enrollment. ’There are a number of students who don’t see or recognize the value in education, particularly their high school diplomas. Often their lack of success in school is fueled by their desire to go make money. We have to offer them courses that can help them be successful in school and offer classes that meet their needs, such as career, technical and agricultural pathways so there’s a reason for them to stay in school,’ he said. ‘They’ll get the training and skills associated with what they want to do and it’ll open so many doors and opportunities because they’re educated, instead of them going into the field as a dropout with no education or experience.’ Maddox credited hard work on the part of all the school system’s teachers for Pike’s higher than average graduation rate. Pike County’s graduation for the class of 2012 will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, May 25.

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