How have BHS' graduation rates compared to others over the last decade?


Just south of here, Wilkinson County High School's graduation rate in 2014 was 68.9 percent. A mere two years later, it was a whopping 91.5 percent.

The same thing happened at nearby Johnson County High School, where the graduation rate went from 69.3 percent in 2014 to 87.5 percent in 2016.

The same phenomenon also happened in Baldwin County, for whatever it's worth. The BHS graduation rate for the Class of 2014 was recorded at 66.6 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Education's database. Two years later, the graduation rate at Baldwin High was 86.1 percent. In other years, the local dropout rate went from 1-in-3 students to 1-in-8 students in just 24 months.

So, how did this happen? How did the graduation rates in Wilkinson, Johnson and Baldwin increase so dramatically in just 24 months? It would be impossible to give an exact answer, but it's also very safe to say that the Georgia High School Graduation Test is the primary reason. The Georgia DOE began phasing out the Georgia High School Graduation Test in 2011. The Class of 2014 was the final cohort required to take the test. Prior to that, Georgia high school students "had to get at least a 200" on the different portions of the test in order to earn a non-special education diploma.

The Baldwin County School District does not shy away from touting its increases in graduation rates. It's actually in the very first paragraph of Superintendent Noris Price's bio...

"Dr. Noris Price has served as the Superintendent of Baldwin County Schools since July 1, 2014. Under her leadership, the Baldwin County School District has implemented instructional initiatives and strategies that have resulted in improved student performance and the high school graduation rate has increased from 66% to 88%."

For more perspective, below is a comparison of Baldwin County's graduation trends compared to every school district within two counties of Baldwin. The first percentage beside each school district is its 2014 graduation rate, which coincided with the final year of the Georgia High School Graduation Test. The second percentage, meanwhile, is each county's graduation rate for the Class of 2023.

  • Baldwin – 66.6% // 89.2%
  • Bibb – 58.9% // 87.1%
  • Bleckley – 87.7 // 95.9%
  • Dublin City 51.1% // 96.9%
  • Glascock - 95.7% // 90.7%
  • Greene - 65.1% // 85%
  • Hancock - 91.1%(?) // 82.8%
  • Jasper - 66.4% // 93%
  • Jefferson - 64.8% // 88.5%
  • Johnson - 69.3% // 91.6%
  • Jones - 71.8% // 87.7%
  • Laurens - 77.2% // 85.4%
  • Monroe - 82.9% // 94.4%
  • Morgan - 87% // 94.4%
  • Putnam - 81.5% // 87.7%
  • Talieferro - N/A // N/A
  • Twiggs - 42.2% // 91.5%
  • Warren - 73.3% // 84.9%
  • Washington - 81.5% // 93.7%
  • Wilkinson - 68.9% // 98.9%

As evidenced in the data above, there have been some really "meteoric" rises in graduation rates around this part of Georgia. Twiggs County Public Schools, for example, claims that its graduation rate increased by 116 percent in nine years. Also, according to data, Dublin High went from having around 1-in-2 high school students drop out to 1-in-25. Wilkinson County went from having 1-in-3 high schoolers dropping out to 1-in-100, according to the data.

Since the graduation test was shelved, the use of "credit recovery programs" has become increasingly popular. Credit recovery programs traditionally meant summer school, but these days credit recovery programs can be more "flexible" and "creative." There's relatively little oversight for credit recovery programs, and it's basically left up to the individual school district.

There's also very little oversight when it comes to a high school's cohort. A cohort basically is the number of ninth graders at a high school on the first day of school. Each student in the "cohort" is supposed to be tracked all the way to graduation. For example, if a student stops showing up for class, the school is supposed to do its due diligence to determine why. Did the student drop out, or did the student legitimately transfer to another high school?

Baldwin2K isn't accusing any school districts in this area of manipulating its cohort, because Baldwin2K has no evidence of this. However, it's no secret in education that the practice occasionally takes place. It should raise eyebrows when some schools consistently have way more ninth graders than 12th graders while simultaneously claiming to have really high graduation rates. 

For example, there were 1,800 ninth graders in the Bibb County School District in October 2019, according to the DOE's data, which would've been the first semester of ninth grade for the Class of 2013. Fast forward to March 2023, the final semester of high school for the Class of 2023 in Bibb County. There were 1,110 seniors at this time, according to the DOE. In other words, there were 1,800 ninth graders in 2019 but only 1,110 seniors in 2023. 

Bibb's graduation rate subsequently was placed at  87.1 percent last year.

Obviously, there was some legitimate net migration and net immigration into Bibb County schools during that time. To what extent, however, remains fuzzy.

In Baldwin County, meanwhile, there were 405 ninth graders in October 2019 but only 257 12th graders in March 2023. It's been this way for a long time at BHS. Some school years are more pronounced than others. During the October 1998 headcount, there were exactly twice as many freshmen as seniors (630 vs. 315).

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