Four-year graduation rate data just released by the Georgia Department of Education has system and school leaders beaming with unparalleled pride; not only are all three Bartow County high schools above the milestone 90% mark, but every rate reached an all-time high and beat the state rate! Equally as impressive, graduation rates of students with disabilities skyrocketed by more than 12% at two out of three high schools. 

The system four-year graduation rate increased from 91.2 last year to 93.6 this year! That beats the state rate of 83.7 by almost 10%. The graduation rate of students with disabilities also jumped from 71.4 to 80.7! 

Woodland High School records the highest graduation rate in the county with 95.4, a 3.6% increase from last year. WHS also graduated 79% of its students with disabilities. That is a 12.3% increase over last year’s rate. WHS Principal Dave Stephenson sites new course extension opportunities, credit recovery, and a commitment to all students learning at high levels. 

“The Class of 2021 benefitted from a full four-year commitment to monitoring all our students,” added Stephenson. “This was even more critical when the pandemic hit. Teachers, counselors, clerks, and paraprofessionals maintained ongoing communication throughout both the closures of spring 2020 and the entire 2020-21 school year in order to connect with and motivate distance learners and their families. Our teachers showed great compassion for students who were impacted by quarantines and other disruptions by continually focusing on evidence of learning, through both face-to-face and technology-based supports.” 

Cass High School boasts a 91.9% graduation rate, which is almost three points higher than last year. CHS also graduated 83.3% of its students with disabilities. That is a tremendous increase from 2020, where 69.6% of its students with disabilities graduated. CHS Principal Steve Revard said he is excited to see the hard work from his students, teachers, and staff recognized with the highest graduation rate his school has ever seen. 

“As a Professional Learning Community, collaborative teams continue to analyze individual student data based on common formative and summative assessments,” added Revard. “From there, teacher teams make informed instructional decisions that include response days, Tier II, and Tier III instruction. Additionally, course extension options and summer interventions help ensure student learning remains non-negotiable.” 

Adairsville High School’s graduation rate also rises to an all-time high, from 92.3 last year to 93.6 in 2021. 

“Posting the highest graduation rate in the history of the school is quite an accomplishment,” added AHS Principal Bruce Mulkey. “I couldn't be prouder of the Class of 2021 and our entire staff. This achievement is a collaborative effort that requires a dedicated team of students, parents, teachers, counselors, and support staff. We are confident that the processes our staff follows to help us monitor our graduation cohort are extremely beneficial. I believe everyone has been very concerned about the impact COVID-19 would have on our students, but Dr. Pageand our Board deserve a lot of credit for giving our staff the support needed to ensure all our students were successful and helped us overcome any of those setbacks. One example of that is the new Learning Support Specialist position that focuses on student results. It's difficult to put a value on additional support positions, but there's little doubt Pat Konen was instrumental in our success last year. I'm also convinced that the PLC process has made us better across the board. While that process was initiated at the system level, our teachers have been responsible for execution, and they have done everything that has been asked of them and more. They continue to work to improve their craft, and they continue to amaze me daily.” 

Exceptional Education Director Tania Amerson and her team were also instrumental in raising graduation rates to historic heights. 

“I was so happy to see this increase in graduation rates,” said Amerson. “Our department mission is to prepare students with the skills needed to achieve their desired post-secondary outcomes. Earning a high school diploma is a huge accomplishment towards this goal for our students. Additionally, the Bartow County School System is committed to high levels of achievement for ALL students. This graduation data affirms this commitment. The implementation of the PLC process in Bartow County has allowed for increased collaboration between general education and exceptional education teachers which has led to increases in learning for all students.” 

“As you can see, the work being done across our system to increase graduation rates is intentional,” added Bartow County School System Superintendent Dr. Phillip Page. “It has been impressive to watch our high school leadership teams collaborate weekly to improve all of our high schools. They set a goal to surpass the milestone 90% graduation rate, and not only did they meet that goal, they surpassed it. I could not be more proud of our instructional leaders and the work they do to ensure our students are prepared to be successful adults in Bartow County and beyond.”