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Countys graduation rates continue to climb
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Graduation rates
                                      2014 2015
Countywide                        83.3 87.1
ECHS                                 81 85.8
SEHS                              87.3 89.9

Graduation rates at Effingham County schools continue to climb and also continue to outpace the state’s performance.

The county’s two high schools combined for an 87.1 percent graduation rate in 2015, nearly 10 points higher than the state rate of 78.8 percent. It’s also an increase from the 83.3 percent rate in 2014.

“We are very excited about our graduation rates,” said Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “The district has the highest graduation rate on record with 87.081 percent graduating from high school. I am especially pleased with that percentage, when you look back at 2005-06 when our graduation rate was 69.4 percent.”

South Effingham High School’s graduation rate for 2015 was 89.9 percent, with 337 of 375 potential graduates receiving their diplomas. Effingham County High School’s rate was 85.8 percent.

Both marks were higher than those in 2014, when the system’s overall rate was 83.3 percent. South Effingham’s graduation rate that year was 87.9 percent, and ECHS’ rate was 81 percent.

“Both schools have done a wonderful job making sure that the ninth graders remain in school,” Shearouse said. “Traditionally, that is the year most students drop out of high school. Our credit recovery program at both schools is designed to keep students on track in order to graduate on time. Not letting students get behind in their coursework is an important intervention.”

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.

This was also the first year students did not have to take the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 91 earlier this year, marking the end of the test, which began in 1994. The state’s phasing out of the GHSGT also has helped students graduate, Shearouse added. Prior to 2011, students had to pass the GHSGT to graduate.

“Many students had difficulty passing the science and social studies portion of the test, resulting in fewer graduates,” he said. “Students now take end-of-course tests, which count 20 percent of their grade but don’t prohibit a student from graduating just because they fail one test.”

According to the state Department of Education, 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.  

“Credit should also be given to our CTAE (career, technical and agricultural education) programs,” Shearouse said. “Students are able to match their interests with a CTAE program, and for some, finally find a reason for staying in school. For example, students attending the Effingham College and Career Academy tend to stay in school because they are interested in their chosen pathway.”

Shearouse also said the graduation rates aren’t just the work of high school teachers and administrators.

“Administrators and teachers from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade all know that our ultimate goal is to graduate students from high school with a foundation for post-secondary success,” he said. “Our teachers and administrators care about our students and go above and beyond to make sure students are successful.”