Cobb’s graduation rate rose from 76 percent in 2012 to 77 percent in 2013, while Marietta’s rose from 62 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2013.
According to a report released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia’s rate increased two percent, from 70 percent in 2012 to 72 percent in 2013.
The high school with the highest graduation rate, at 96 percent, was Harrison High School in west Cobb.
Harrison also far exceeded other Cobb schools in the graduation rate for black students, at 90 percent, and Hispanic students, at 91 percent.
Pope High School and Lassiter High School, both in east Cobb, ranked second and third in the county. Pope had a 92 percent graduation rate and Lassiter had a 91 percent graduation rate.
Cobb School board member David Banks said the graduation rate in his area has a lot to do with the families of east Cobb, who typically have at least one member with a college degree. Sometimes both parents are college educated, with master’s degrees or doctorates.
“It is a well-educated community,” Banks said.
Banks said the foundation to ensuring a student graduates is built in elementary and middle school.
Despite cutbacks in the school district’s budget, Cobb teachers are making up for the money gap, Banks said.
“I think they still have hope because they are working in a high-performing school system,” Banks said about the teachers, who see their hard work paying off. “They see the results.”
The underperforming schools
Cobb School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn said it is better to have progress in graduation numbers than a decline, but the school system cannot settle for “good enough.”
“The closer you get to 100 percent the more difficult it is to gain ground,” Scamihorn said. “It is always easier to improve from poor to good to improve from excellent to the greatest.”
Still, the bottom schools in Cobb barely graduated half of their senior class. South Cobb High School, outside of Austell, had a 2013 graduation rate of 61 percent, Pebblebrook High School, in Mableton, had a rate of 59 percent, and Osborne High School, south of Marietta, had a rate of 48 percent.
“We need to find out how we can help our working parents and single parents to get their kids more motivated and interested in excelling,” Scamihorn said.
Scamihorn said one idea might be offering evening classes.
Social and economic conditions are big factors in a student body’s success, Scamihorn said. “It certainly is not capability,” he added.
Scamihorn said he rejects that any gender or social group is more capable of learning. He said it is about finding what sparks a young student to learn and instilling discipline to succeed.
Marietta School Board Chairman Randy Weiner said his district is lagging behind in graduation rates because of Marietta’s high transient rate.
That will remain a challenge “until our student retention rate stabilizes,” he said.
Weiner said the graduation rate is not about a single senior class each year, but a progression of a student body through four years of high school.
One of the reasons for Marietta High School’s advancing graduation rate is because there are more options for the students lagging behind, Weiner said.
Tutoring services are increased to reach students before they get too off track, there is better communication with the extension program at the Marietta Performance Learning Center, and evening classes are offered, Weiner said.
“We have a much longer way to go, but we will continue to move in that upward trend,” he said.
Georgia’s 2013 public high School graduation rate
AREA 2013 2012 Difference
* State 72 70 2% increase
* Cobb 77 76 1% increase
* Marietta 67 62 5% increase
Cobb County’s top and bottom schools, based on 2013 graduation rates:
* Harrison High School 96%
* Pope High School 92%
* Lassiter High School 91%
* South Cobb High School 61%
* Pebblebrook High School 59%
* Osborne High School 48%