Cheers to the Resilient Class of 2021! APS Reaches All-Time Graduation Rate High of 83.1 Percent

APS achieved an 83.1 percent graduation rate for cohort 2021, according to graduation data released today by the Georgia Department of Education. By achieving its all-time high graduation rate, APS has also narrowed its gap with the state rate of – 83.7% – by 2.9 percentage points to a difference of 0.6 percentage points. This is the first time that APS has been this close to the state graduation rate.

A total of 2,557 of students graduated on-time from APS in 2021. The percentage of students who graduated in 2021 is higher than any other year since 2012, when the state adopted the cohort graduation rate as required by federal law. While the overall number of graduates is 13 fewer than cohort 2020, the 2021 cohort contained 126 fewer students than the 2020 cohort. See Figure 1.

Figure 1: APS Graduation Rates (Graduate Counts/Cohort Sizes)

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. 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.

Let’s look at our schools.

Of the 17 schools with graduating classes, eight achieved percentage-point gains compared to 2020. The largest increase was at Carver STEAM, which achieved a 18.1-percentage-point gain. Other schools achieving gains include BEST MS/HS (+15.1), Jackson High (+7.3), Washington (+7.0), Therrell (+3.1), South Atlanta (+1.8), KIPP Collegiate (+1.6), North Atlanta (+1.6), and Drew Secondary (+0.8) See Figure 2.

Figure 2: 2021 APS Graduation Rates and Change from 2020

Although our rates are improving and the gaps and narrowing, the importance of continuing our equity work remains evident in our current data.

In addition, six schools had graduation rates greater than 90 percent: Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (100%), Drew Secondary (99.0%), North Atlanta High (93.9%), Atlanta Classical Academy (92.7%), BEST MS/HS (92.7%), and Carver Early College (90.4%).

Let’s take a look at some other results from the latest graduation rates:

  • ●      Graduation rates for both White students (97.4%) and Black students (80.6%) reached new highs with the 2021 cohort, while the rate for Hispanic students (80.2%) was slightly lower than higher than the 2020 rate (82.8%) but higher than the 2019 rate of 80.0%. See Figure 3.
  • Nearly 17 percentage points separated the graduation rates of Black students and White students. This is 3 percentage points lower than cohort 2020.
  • The 2021 graduation rate for students with disabilities increased by 9.2 percentage points over 2020 to reach an all-time high of 73.8%.
  • The graduation rate for English learners also reached a new high of 76.8%, a 0.7-percentage-point increase compared to 2020.

Figure 3: APS Graduation Rates by Race

As you can see in the data, APS still has work to do to close the achievement gaps. Our Center for Equity and Social Justice has begun a process of engaging our entire community and developing strategies to ensure that all the district’s organizational elements — culture,

systems, structures, resources, and stakeholders– are barrier-free.

Additionally, with the implementation of our evidence-based APS5 methods – Data, Curriculum & Instruction, Whole Child & Intervention, Personalized Learning, and Signature Programming – we believe all APS schools will continue to increase student outcomes and fulfill our equity commitments.

Continuing to put equity at the forefront of our work, engaging our stakeholders, and implementing the best strategies available to us, we will continue to reduce our opportunity and learning gaps and move closer to achieving our mission of graduating every student ready for college, career, and life.


Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate

Georgia has calculated an adjusted cohort graduation rate as required by federal law since 2012, and this calculation has not changed over this period. APS only reports the official state graduation rate. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. From the beginning of ninth grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently “adjusted” by adding any students who transfer into the cohort during the next four years and subtracting any students who transfer out.

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