Georgia high school graduation rates rise, Richmond County rates drop

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Graduation rates for Georgia public high schools are in. Numbers out Wednesday showed nearly two percent more students walked across the stage towards a diploma this year.

Matt Cardoza, Georgia Department of Education, said, "We made almost a two percentage point gain from 2012 and a 4 percent gain from 2011. The trend is moving in the right direction."

But the right direction is statewide. Richmond County graduation rates are down to 58.3 percent; almost one percent down from 59.2 percent in 2012.

School board members admit the numbers fell, but said their teachers are working hard. They told Fox 54 changing the direction has to continue at home.

Richmond County School Board President Venus Cain said, "We need the community to step up and insist that our children walk across the stage and graduate."

Still Cardoza said they're finding new ways to keep kids engaged and in high school, with programs like the Career Pathway Initiative incoming freshman started this August.

"It's much like what you see in college. You choose a major. They come in and see an area they think they might be interested in. The courses are tailored to what the career is they want to pursue."

It doesn't apply to the graduation rates yet, but he says the program helps kids learn skills they'll use later in life, something that could keep those rates up.

Georgia public school officials told Fox 54 the graduation rate for Columbia County high schools for 2013 is 76.3 percent.