Most high schools in northwest Georgia surpassed the state graduation rates, according to an annual report released Monday.

The statewide graduation rate is 78.8%, up considerably from last year's rate of 72.5%.

In our area, Murray County schools scored the highest graduation rate, at 89.3% countywide.  Dade County reported an 86.7% graduation rate (the county has one high school), followed by Catoosa County, at 84.9%.

Murray County High School had the highest individual school rate in our area, at 98.8%.  Gordon Lee High School was close behind at 97.3%, along with North Murray High School at 97.2%.

Here are other highlights from our region:

Walker County's overall graduation rate is 82.2%.  Dalton City scored an 80.7% rate.  Whitfield County's graduation rate is 75.1%, below the state average.

In Walker County, Lafayette High led the way with an 85.1% rate, followed by Ridgeland at 79.9%.  Dalton High School had a 90.6% rate.  In Catoosa County, Heritage was the top-rated high school at 90.5%, followed by Ringgold at 85.7% and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School at 77.9%.  In Whitfield County, Northwest High School has the highest rate at 93.9%, followed by Southeast High at 90.7% and Coahulla Creek at 86.3%.

Here is a statement from the Georgia Department of Education:

"Georgia’s 2015 high school graduation rate rose significantly, from ?72.5 percent in 2014 to 78.8 percent in 2015. This represents the fourth straight increase in the state’s graduation rate.

“The 2015 graduation rate shows that our schools are working harder and smarter than ever to ensure our students receive their diploma, something that affords them the opportunity to move on to postsecondary education, the military, or directly into a meaningful career,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “I expect we will continue to see the graduation rate increase as we provide more personalized graduation plans with multiple paths to graduation.”

“In today’s highly competitive workforce, a high school diploma is necessary to succeed in a growing and changing economy,” said Governor Nathan Deal. “Our state benefits as more qualified Georgians graduate high school and have the opportunity to pursue postsecondary credentials and careers. While there is more work to be done, I am encouraged by our state’s progress as we continue to work together to provide Georgia’s students with a high-quality education.”

This is the fifth year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using the adjusted cohort rate, which is now required by the U.S. Department of Education. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman; it is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. In contrast, Georgia’s former graduation rate calculation defined the cohort upon graduation, which may have included students who took more than four years to graduate.

This is the first class not required to take the Georgia High School Graduation Test in order to receive a regular diploma, as Georgia moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to graduation.

There is evidence that focusing less on testing, and more on career education and personalized paths to graduation, opens up opportunities for students. The graduation rate for students who complete a Career Pathway is much higher – at 89 percent – than the rate for students who do not.  

Moving forward, the GaDOE will continue to focus on personalized learning rather than a standardized approach – including Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) and core credit flexibility, including the new flexibility that allows students to receive a math, science, or foreign language credit for a computer programming course.

The agency is also working to improve the graduation rate for students with disabilities through a statewide systemic improvement plan which establishes a network of regional support to support local districts in implementing interventions provided by the National Dropout Prevention Center.

All states now calculate the graduation rate using the same formula, but each state still sets its own requirements for students to earn a diploma. Georgia still has some of the highest requirements in the nation for students to graduate with a regular diploma."

More Information | State Graduation Rates 

  • 2015 – 78.8 percent 
  • 2014 – 72.5 percent 
  • 2013 – 71.8 percent 
  • 2012 – 69.7 percent 
  • 2011 – 67.4 percent