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Graduation rate well above state average
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Dawson County High School is seeing an increase in graduation rates from last year.

In 2012, Dawson saw 79.8 percent of students graduating high school. This year, the rate is up to 84.1 percent - 190 of the 226 seniors set to graduate at the end of May, according to a report released on Dec. 11.

State Superintendent John Barge said the numbers are based off of a new "adjusted cohort rate."

"Under a more rigorous calculation method, the trend still shows that the percentage of our high school students graduating increases year to year," he said. "Despite the economic challenges our districts are facing, we have more high school students graduating today than we ever have before, which is a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers."

The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman. The rate 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 from high school.

The high school rates have been increasing over the past few years, with this year increasing from 2012's 79.85 percent, itself an increase over 2011's 74.39 percent.

"It is comforting to see the work of so many people is paying off. We are glad to see an almost 10 percent increase in the graduation rate," said Dawson County High School Principal Jute Wilson. "Each May, we hand diplomas to students who are the first in their family to graduate. Diplomas open doors and opportunities. A higher graduation rate is good for every resident of Dawson County."

The numbers exceed the state percentage of 71.5 percent of students graduating, though the state also saw an increase from 69.7 percent.

"As compared to the state, we were very competitive. The Dawson County School System four-year high school graduation rate was the 33rd highest in the state out of the 182 systems listed," said Dawson County Superintendent Keith Porter. "Since they changed the manner in which they compute graduation rates two years ago, the DCSS rate has risen around 10 percent."

Porter said it was the continued work of the entire faculty of the school system, not just the high school, which leads to these results.

"Graduation rate is a function of the work and skill of our entire system faculty and staff. A child can be lost as early as elementary school if they have a bad experience," Porter said. "I would especially like to congratulate our Dawson County High School and Hightower Academy faculty and staff for the high number of graduates."