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Atlanta Public Schools hits record high graduation rate

The district said Thursday as statewide data was released that it saw a 2.8% increase in graduation rate over last year.

ATLANTA — Atlanta Public Schools announced a record high graduation rate for the Class of 2021 on Thursday, saying the rate had increased by nearly 3% over last year.

APS said its 2021 graduation rate was 83.1%, just 0.6% off the state graduation rate of 83.7%. The district said this was the closest it had ever been to the statewide rate.

The city district said Carver STEAM saw the highest increase in graduation rate among schools, at 18.1%. BEST MS/HS saw a 15.1% increase, and both Jackson High and Washington High increased by at least 7%.

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“I am incredibly proud of the Class of 2021. Despite a global pandemic, uncertainty, and racial unrest, these resilient scholars persevered and accomplished an important milestone,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said in a statement. “Their success in achieving APS’ all time high graduation rate is a testament to the focus and concerted efforts of our students, teachers, counselors, families and school leaders.”

Additionally, the district said that the gap in graduation rates between white students and Black students was 17%, a 3% improvement over the Class of 2020. 

“Although we applaud the increases, we also recognize that providing equitable supports to our students who have historically faced significant challenges is paramount in helping us close our achievement gaps once and for all while also improving overall graduation rates,” Superintendent Herring said.

Statewide, the graduation rate dipped fractionally, from 83.8% to 83.7%.

The Georgia Department of Education said the state graduation rate stands at a 14% increase since 2012.

“Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to see Georgia’s graduation rate holding steady,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said in a statement. “Combined with the class of 2021’s increases in ACT and SAT scores, this is an encouraging indicator about the work being done in public schools. Teachers and students have continued to succeed in the face of challenging circumstances."