APS 2019 Graduation Rate Remains High at 77.9 Percent

District reports highest number of graduates to date – 2,506 students! APS decreased by 2.0 percentage point from all-time high last year.

Whenever the day arrives when the Georgia Department of Education releases official graduation rates, I can always expect a mix of news. And as it happens every year, the news for Atlanta Public Schools comes with a mix of great news for some of our high schools and room for improvement on our overall district rate.


Coretta Scott King reported a 100% graduation rate!

First, the news: Atlanta Public Schools (APS) reported a 77.9 percent graduation rate for the 2019 cohort, according to graduation data released today by the Georgia Department of Education. The rate represents an 18.8 percentage point increase over 2014, although 2.0 percentage points less than the district’s all-time high graduation rate of 79.9 percent posted in 2018.

And now the great news: More students – 2,506 of them – graduated on-time from APS in 2019 than any other year since 2012, when the state adopted the cohort graduation rate as required by federal law. This is an increase of 68 students from 2018. The 2019 cohort included 3,215 students, an increase of 165 compared to 2018 and the largest cohort since 2014.

More news: The 2019 results also show that the APS rate lags behind the state graduation rate of 82.0% by 4.1 percentage points.

Healthy growth comes with both gains and declines and ebbs and flows, but as long as progress moves overall in the right direction strongly and consistently, the work remains on target to reach the district’s graduation goals. That has been the case for Atlanta Public Schools. As Figure 1 shows, the district’s graduation rate remains 18.8 percentage points higher than the 59.1 percent rate for cohort 2014.

APS Graduation Rates (Graduate Counts/Cohort Sizes)

Figure 1:  APS Graduation Rates (Graduate Counts/Cohort Sizes)

 While our rate declined slightly from our all-time high in 2018, we are encouraged that our efforts are continuing to yield results for kids and producing much stronger outcomes than just five years ago. There is no question, however, that there is much more work to be done to ensure that all students are on the path to graduation.

But we have some great news to share about our graduation rates!

Five of our schools posted graduation rates greater than 90 percent. In fact, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, led by Principal Eulonda Washington, had a 100% graduation rate for cohort 2019. The other schools include: Drew Secondary (96.6%) – Principal Kendrick Myers; Carver Early College (92.6%) – Principal Marcene Thornton; North Atlanta High School (91.1%) – Principal Curtis Douglass; and Grady High School (90.4%) – Principal Betsy Bockman. 

Eight schools achieved percentage point gains compared to 2018: Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (+6.5) – Principal Eulonda Washington; Forrest Hill (+4.7) – Principal Zawadaski Robinson; Carver STEAM (+3.1) – Principal Yusuf Muhammad; South Atlanta High (+3.0) – Principal Patricia Ford; B.E.S.T. Academy (+2.4) – Tim Jones; Crim High (+2.3), Carver Early College (+0.9) – Principal Marcene Thornton; and Therrell High (+0.6) – Principal Shelly Powell. See Figure 2.

2019 APS Graduation Rates and Changes from 2018

Figure 2:  2019 APS Graduation Rates and Changes from 2018

I want to give a huge shout out and a congratulations to all teachers and staff at these schools and a big shout out to all of our principals. I also want to thank Evelyn Mobley, principal of Crim and Phoenix Academy, 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.percentage gains

Across the district, I want to thank our teachers, school leaders, graduation coaches, counselors, administration teams, and support staff for everything they’ve done to help our students succeed. When you visit our schools, please be sure to thank them as well, as they are at the front lines of our mission. These graduation rates reflect not only student achievement but their unrelenting efforts to prepare them for choice-filled lives!

I also want to 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, especially Elise Lenthe, for creating the dashboards and tracking tools we needed.

I’ll provide a full report on graduation rates and other performance indicators for the district at the 2019 State of the District on Thursday, November 7, at the newly renovated Harper-Archer Elementary at 3399 Collier Dr. NW, Atlanta 30331. Heroic students, educators and APS staff will join me to narrate “The Epic of APS,” which highlights the victories, struggles and stalemates from the APS Journey of Transformation and our quest for excellence to ensure all students graduate ready for college and career. I’d love to see you there! RSVP here.

Until then, my APS colleagues and I are working to increase graduation rates once again. Thanks to all in Atlanta for the ongoing support of our educators and students!

For more information and charts on our 2019 graduation rate, go to https://apsinsights.org/blog.

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