Thursday, November 3, 2016

Highest ever ...

Highest ever!  That refrain has been sounded multiple times this year with regard to Oconee County Schools.  Highest-ever SAT scores, #1 in the state of Georgia and a 49 point increase in the last three years; Highest-ever student enrollment, over 7500 students and a growth of 1000 kids in the last four years.  Now, our students, teachers, parents, and community members can celebrate yet another milestone marked by the “highest-ever” mantra—highest-ever graduation rate! 

The Georgia Department of Education released the 2016 graduation rates for the state of Georgia and individual school districts on November 1.  Oconee County Schools was once again a leader in the state.  Yet, the most exciting metric is not the measurable achievement versus other districts, but the comparison of OCS students’ achievements past and present.  Our students achieved their highest graduation rate ever at an astounding 95.6 percent.  This achievement is even more impressive when you take into account that the record had just been broken last year by the class of 2015 with a 93.6 percent graduation rate.  In fact, in the last five years OCS students have improved the overall graduation rate over five percentage points—no small feat once you eclipse the 90 percent threshold. 

Is there any doubt why we continue to see record growth in our schools, which leads to record growth in our community?  I think not.  People want to be a part of something special and our teachers, students, parents, and school leaders are creating that each day in all ten of our outstanding schools.

Oconee County High School and North Oconee High School, perennially listed as two of America’s Best High Schools, saw tremendous individual increases over last year’s graduation rate.  NOHS increased 2.2 percent to reach 95.1 percent and OCHS reached new heights by improving 2 percent to 95.5 percent.  These numbers far outpaced the state and national average.
Georgia’s public high school graduation rate rose from 78.8 percent in 2015 to 79.2 percent in 2016. The national average also increased to 82 percent.

This is the sixth year Georgia has calculated the graduation rate using a new formula – known as the adjusted cohort rate – 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.

Our students are setting the pace for the state and rewriting the record books.  They are moving the needle farther and faster and are charting a course for success that others can follow.  But that is just the opinion of their proud superintendent! Let me know what you think of this tremendous accomplishment at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.


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