The Cherokee County School District’s graduation rate has soared to a new high, with 92.3% of the Class of 2022 earning a diploma within four years of entering high school!
“This new benchmark is a testament to the hard work of our graduates and support of their families, and the dedication of our teachers, support staff, leaders and community partners and volunteers to make preparing our students for future success our top priority,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said. “We’re in the business of preparing students for life, and we’re so proud of this success. This achievement spurs all of us on to continue striving to better serve our students.”
The four-year graduation rate increased from 90.82% for CCSD’s Class of 2021 and exceeds the State’s Class of 2022 average of 84.1%, according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Education released today. The State’s graduation rate also increased, up from 83.7% in 2021.
CCSD’s rate is the second highest among metro Atlanta school systems. Georgia, along with the rest of the U.S., calculates graduation rates based upon a 4-year cohort methodology. CCSD’s graduation rate has increased by 20 percentage points in the decade since the state began using the cohort model.
Creekview HS reported CCSD’s top Class of 2022 graduation rate of 95.8% (up from 95.2%), with Sequoyah HS achieving the highest gains rising to 95% for the Class of 2022 up from 91.5%.
CCSD’s five-year graduation rate, which tracks those students who need additional time to graduate, also increased – to 92.4% for 2022 graduates, up from 92.3%. CCSD’s rate of students defined as “dropouts” by the State consistently remains low at 1 to 2%. Some students in every year’s cohort need a little more time to graduate, such as due to temporary halts in learning for medical treatments or family emergencies.
Dr. Hightower said he and the School Board remain committed to increasing the graduation rate and ensuring those graduates are future ready, which are top priorities in CCSD’s Blueprint long-range strategic plan.
Last school year, CCSD launched the new school choice option, i-Grad Virtual Academy, for students who prefer to learn remotely. The school initially opened for grades 9-12, and this school year expanded to grades 4-12. i-Grad, for the Class of 2022 -- its first graduating class, achieved a graduation rate of 93.8%.
Other recent CCSD initiatives to increase the graduation rate and future readiness are the opening last school year of Cherokee College & Career Academy, also known as C3 Academy; the expansion of the AP (Advanced Placement) Capstone college-prep program; and the return of high school success coaches, formerly known as graduation coaches.
C3 Academy, which offers high school students the choice to take unique career classes not offered at their school, opened last school year with a cybersecurity program. This school year, the program expanded to also include courses in unmanned aircraft systems and flight operations, with opportunities for students to earn FAA certification. This initiative brings CCSD’s Career Pathway program offerings up to 38, with numerous industry certifications available to students.
CCSD also has continued to step up its college preparation programs, including the continuing expansion of the AP program. In addition to the 30 AP courses offered in core academic subjects through which high school students can earn college credit, CCSD now offers the AP Capstone two-year college-level research program at Etowah HS, Sequoyah HS and River Ridge HS, with Woodstock HS beginning the program this school year.
The successful high school graduation coach program, which initially was funded by the state but then discontinued, has returned this school year to CCSD as a local program called high school success coaches. Assigned to every high school, these educators are dedicated to ensuring that high school students receive the extra support they need to graduate on time.
“Teachers and students who persevered through the challenges of the last several years deserve credit for Georgia’s graduation rate increasing and other recent positive indicators, like Georgia students beating the SAT national average once again,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “I commend Georgia’s educators and the class of 2022, and am confident we will continue to see improvements as we expand opportunities for students and invest in the academic recovery of our state.”