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ATLANTA -- Georgia's high school graduation rate has fallen to 67.4 percent based on a new federally mandated calculation.

The state Department of Education released the figure Tuesday morning after months of preparing state lawmakers and other officials for the drop.

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Under the old calculation, the rate of students receiving diplomas had topped 80 percent, but officials say that number wasn't an accurate picture of Georgia's high school graduates.

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Officials say the new formula divides the number of graduates in a given year by the number of students who enrolled four years earlier, which better accounts for dropouts.

"The new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school," State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge said in a statement.

Barge said Georgia has recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Education to use five-year cohort graduation rates for 2012, instead of the usual four-year cohorts.

"Ultimately, our goal is to ensure each child will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and a career, regardless of how long it takes," he said.

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