APS Rocks: APS’ 2018 Grad Rate is Highest Ever at 79.9% (Up 2.9 percentage points)!

We’ve Increased 20.8 Percentage Points Since 2014

(Drumroll, please!) I want to be the first to share with you that APS has achieved its highest graduation rate ever (WOO HOO!) at 79.9 percent (79.93 to be exact). While we missed our goal of 80 percent by one student, know that I’m really proud of the work of our cohort of 2018 students and our colleagues on the front lines!

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In addition, our graduation rate has increased by 20.8 percentage points since 2014 from 59.1 percent in 2014 to 79.9 percent in 2018. This year’s rate represents a 2.9 percentage point gain over last year.

APS’ graduation rate over the past five years.

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AND, we cut the gap with the state in half from 3.6 percentage points in 2017 to 1.7 percentage points this year (Yay!). The state’s 2018 graduation rate is 81.6 percent. The Georgia Department of Education released this data today.


APS cuts the gap with the State in half.

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Our number of on-time graduates hit a new high at 2,438, which is 82 more graduates than the previous year. Notable gains were achieved by students with disabilities, up 5.0 percentage points to 60.5 percent (Great job Executive Director Katika Lovett, Assistant Superintendent Tammie Workman and our special educators across the district!) AND, the graduation rate for our African-American students, our largest group, is up 3.7 percentage points to 78.2 percent. On a related note…for the first time in seven years, APS is no longer disproportionate for the over suspension of African-American students with disabilities. Woohoo!

The graduation rate for white students remains high at 95.4 percent, although there was a slight decline (-0.5) compared to last year, and the rate for Hispanic students is 73.0 percent a decrease of 4.6 percentage points from 2017. Keep in mind that the cohort 2018 Hispanic subgroup was 148 students; the change in graduation rate reflects six fewer graduates in 2018 than in 2017.

I am so excited about the academic achievements of our students, and it’s important that we celebrate these gains. Our grad rate is as much about the achievement of our students as it is about the commitment of so many APS leaders, teachers, staff and community partners who are working hard every single day to ensure our students graduate ready for college and career.

Now…for a little more perspective on the numbers…

The 20.8 percentage point increase since 2014 speaks to the positive effect of our district-wide transformation strategy, including improved data tracking, an audit of students’ transcripts, alternative approaches to earning and recovering credits, and alternative options for students to show mastery in courses.

But wait…there’s more!

 I would like to highlight the six schools that had graduation rates over 90 percent: Drew Secondary (98.7%), CSK (93.5%), North Atlanta (92.5%), Grady (92.0%), Carver Early College (91.8%), and KIPP Collegiate (90.2%).


And, I also want to call out the eight schools that increased their graduation rates compared to 2017: B.E.S.T. Academy (11.1 percentage points), Jackson (7.9), South Atlanta (6.9), Therrell (6.7), Washington (6.2), Grady (3.6), Douglass (0.8), and Mays (0.2).


 Percentage point change in graduation rate for all schools between 2017 & 2018.

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Congratulations to all teachers and staff at these schools and a big shout out to principals Betsy Bockman, Adam Danser, Curtis Douglass, Ellis Duncan, Patricia Ford, Richard Fowler, Timothy Jones, Peter McKnight, Chanika Perry, Shelly Powell, Marcene Thornton, Eulonda Washington, and Tasharah Wilson!

I also want to thank West End Academy principal Evelyn Mobley for addressing the needs of our at-risk and credit-deficient 11th and 12th grade students and helping them get back on the path to graduation.

We couldn’t make these gains without all of the hard working people at APS who believe in our students.

I want to thank our teachers, school leaders, graduation coaches and counselors and administration teams and support staff for everything they’ve done to help our students succeed. And, please help me thank and recognize Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan and Associate Superintendent Dan Sims, and his team in our Office of High Schools, Chief Accountability and Information Officer Bill Caritj, Executive Director Michael LaMont and his Data and Information Group for creating the dashboards and tracking tools we needed, especially Mary Hartigan (who is leaving her role as Director of Research and Evaluation here at APS on September 21 but not before she did the yeomen’s work of cleaning up the graduation data to ensure the accuracy and integrity that we strive for to rebuild trust with our community. We’re going to miss you, Mary!), and Elise Lenthe our High School Data Strategist.

We know that social and emotional learning (SEL) has a positive effect on student performance. That’s why we have been focused on creating a supportive school climate in every APS classroom and on improving learning environments through positive behavior supports. When our students feel safe, welcomed, respected and challenged by quality educators, they engage and get excited about learning.

We need every parent and every caregiver to continue to work with us to get our students to the finish line. EVERY student matters!

I’ll be reporting on these and other gains across the district at the upcoming 2018 State of the District on Friday, October 5 at 11 a.m. at the new Walden Sports Complex at 320 Irwin St NE. Our theme this year is APS Rocks, and I’d love to see you there! RSVP here.

For now, it’s on to increasing next year’s graduation rate! Let’s stay the course and remain focused on our mission to prepare EVERY student for college and career. Thank you Atlanta for your support! APS ROCKS!!!

For more information and charts on our 2018 graduation rate, click here.





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