Georgia high school graduation rates could drop once the state begins using a federally mandated scale. A drop would have a ripple effect on local communities. (February 9, 2011 / WRDW-TV)
News at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, February 9, 2011
MCDUFFIE COUNTY, Ga.---Georgia could soon see its high graduation numbers drop, and it affects you whether you have a kid in high school or not.
Fewer kids finishing means fewer businesses coming and more problems.
Georgia is one of several states that has not adopted the federally mandated formula to count graduates and next year that changes.
McDuffie County Partners for Success director Miriam Smith says, "higher crime rates, higher teen pregnancy, higher unemployment" are just some things that we could see if graduation rates decrease.
Next year, Georgia is required to adopt the federal formula. Not only that, next year we see our first class graduate or not under the new math curriculum.
Smith says, "this year those students who started the new curriculum are now graduating that's the reason why we haven't been able to see the effects on graduation on that new math curriculum until this year."
Schools work on an integrated math system, that means for 10th graders like Breanna and Sara it's a mix.
Sara says, "you know a little bit of everything its not just Alegbra or whatever...its everything...a little bit of everything."
A little bit of everything that has some kids struggling.
Thomson High school assistant principal Lynn Cato says, "we spend a little time doing Algebra concepts and then we swap to Geometry and some students it's difficult to make that swap all at one time."
What does this mean for you?
Dr. Cato says, "local employers require diplomas for employment and I think that sends a signal to local students that we all want them to be successful and it sends a signal about the importance of a diploma."
Incoming businesses look at those rates too.
Smith says, "they're going to see that and see that that is a very low graduation rate potentially and that there's been a huge decline and that is not going to speak very highly of our community at all as far as being a work ready environment."
This will also affect those organizations like Smith's who help get more kids across the stage but now could see their funding cut.
One way to help is to get involved with your community organizations. Georgia's graduation rate right now is at 80%. Some say changing things could drop that rate by 20%.
South Carolina has been using the federal formula for several years, its graduation rate for 2009-2010 was 73%.
Have information or an opinion about this story? Click here to contact the newsroom.
Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.