An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

Atlanta Public Schools plans to focus on chronic absenteeism, missing any school, instead of truancy, unexcused absences. This takes the focus off of the legal process and onto the academic impact.
Georgia school districts deal with spiking chronic absenteeism
Brennan FrittsMay 16, 2024

Chronic absenteeism, a condition where a student misses 10% or more of a school year, has spiked in Georgia since COVID-19. Pre-COVID, Atlanta...

District sets record graduation rate, surpasses state average

Connie Erdozain
Atlanta Public Schools had its highest all-time graduation rate in the class of 2023. This was the first time APS had a graduation rate which exceeded Georgia’s graduation rate.

Atlanta Public Schools saw its all-time highest graduation rate with the class of 2023. With 86.6% of all students graduating, APS surpassed Georgia’s graduation rate, which was 84.4% according to the Georgia Department of Education, for the first time.

APS graduated 2,812 students across its 16 high schools, an increase of 121 students or 2.6% from the class of 2022.

“The fact that [the graduation rate] is moving in [a positive] direction is cause for me to be optimistic,” Midtown Student Support Officer Dr. Cheryl Nahmias said. “It also helps me to think that many of the supports that we are putting in place are helping more students reach that preliminary goal of graduating from high school.”

Eight APS schools achieved a graduation rate of 90% or higher: Atlanta Classical Academy, Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy, Drew Charter, North Atlanta, B.E.S.T. Academy, Carver Early College, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate and Midtown.

“Graduation from high school is the underlying goal of all high schools,” Dr. Nahmias said. “You are here to support students so that they can be successful here, earn their credentials and then use that as the launch for whatever is next.”

Midtown had a graduation rate of 91.3% in 2023, which was a 4.9% increase from 2022.

“As the graduation rate continues to grow, students will continue to think more about what happens next after high school and will hold themselves to a higher standard,” Midtown college and career counselor Mira Ratchev said. “I just encourage students to focus on their grades because if you don’t graduate, you can’t start thinking about what’s happening next.”

The graduation rate is adjusted to account for transfers in and out of the cohort, but dropouts remain in the calculation. Margaret Kimbrough, a senior from the class of 2023, said she noticed how no one from her class dropped out.

“It seemed like nearly everyone who entered Midtown as a freshman graduated as a senior in my class,” Kimbrough said. “I don’t know a single person who dropped out or didn’t graduate because they failed. Even people that I knew who were on the verge of failing got support from their counselors or teachers and graduated.”

While there was an increase in APS graduation rates overall, there were still disparities in the graduation rates between different racial demographics. While Black students had an all-time high graduation rate of 84.7%, White students had a graduation rate of 96.7%.

“Everybody is concerned about equity,” Dr. Nahmias said. “One of the major changes that we’ve made at Midtown this year is the changes in the way that we do grading and assessment. The goal there is to create a more equitable, fair and consistent system so that all students have maximal opportunities to be successful. That is one thing that disproportionately benefits students who are disproportionately disadvantaged.”

College and career counselor Samantha Collier said the College and Career Center is working to make sure every student, regardless of race, is treated equally.

“We in the CCC approach every student with the idea that they have a future after high school, and we stress the need to plan for post-graduation to each and every student,” Collier said. “We also highly encourage students to finish as strong as possible, so we heavily emphasize that students keep their grades up, regardless of whether they will be graduating in the spring or not.”

Preventing students from dropping out of high school isn’t something that Midtown or APS has full control over. However, Dr. Nahmias has worked on several programs to reduce the number of students who drop out.

“[Midtown] definitely worked to connect students to post-secondary options other than college,” Dr. Nahmias said. “We have a workforce-ready pathway now at Midtown. We also hooked kids up with programs like dual achievement, which allows you to finish your high school degree and get certified in a trade at a technical college. You’re essentially starting college and finishing high school simultaneously.”

Dr. Nahmias said the impact that the increasing graduation rates have extends beyond just the APS school system, to the entire city of Atlanta.

“If we can continue to help students graduate and be successful in high school, that’s going to translate into economic opportunities for the individuals, but it is also going to drive economic development in the city,” Dr. Nahmias said. “That’s a positive feedback loop. If kids graduate and are able to be successful and support themselves and their aspirations, that will cycle back into one day when they have kids of their own.”

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About the Contributors
Brennan Fritts
Brennan Fritts, News Section Editor
Brennan Fritts is a sophomore and this is her first year writing for the Southerner. She enjoys volleyball and hanging out with friends.
Connie Erdozain
Connie Erdozain, A&E Managing Editor
Connie Erdozain is a junior and this is her third year writing for the Southerner. When she isn't writing, Connie enjoys painting, playing the piano, reading and spending time with her friends.

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