Martin Roesch, Superintendent for Valdosta City Schools:
An Open Letter to Staff and Educators at Valdosta City Schools in Response to Coverage in Valdosta Daily Times:
The Georgia Department of Education released the 2014 Cohort Graduation Rates for schools and districts this week. Today, the VDT reported a decline in the VHS graduation rate over the prior year. I want to let you know this is a misleading, inaccurate headline and article. The paper is looking at school vs. system cohort rates over the past two years and this makes for an apples to oranges comparison and should not be reported in this manner. The attached chart accurately depicts the Valdosta City School 4-year Cohort Rate since 2011.
In 2011, Georgia changed how the graduation rate was being calculated and began reporting graduation rate based on a four- and five-year cohort. The cohort is based on when a student first becomes a freshman and is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four or five years and includes adjustments for student transfers.
It is important to remember that during this time our district transitioned from our alternative school being reported as a separate school with a graduation rate calculated for VHS and PLC as separate schools. Since 2013, all students in our district are included at VHS for graduation, even if they are a student in the alternative school. For this reason, graduate rate should be reported and compared based on our system cohort rate.
Since 2011, our 4-year cohort rate has increased over 10 points.
Since 2013, the 4-year cohort rate increased over 4 points.
While our district has made significant gains in increasing the graduation rate over the past four years due to the efforts of our educators and students, we will continue to implement a variety of programs to address the needs of all students and improve graduation outcomes. The graduation rate is not only a high school concern, but demands the commitment and attention of our elementary and middle schools, along with our parents and community.
I am proud of you and our progress. We still have much to accomplish and are heading in the right direction. Thank you for what you do each and every day for our children! Go Wildcats!
The preceding letter was sent to staff, educators and board members of the Valdosta City Schools. A copy was made available to Valdosta Today which has been posted here. No one at Valdosta City Schools provided this directly to Valdosta Today. Valdosta Today believes the school system deserves the right to state its case and has provided the opportunity here via the posting of this letter to VCS employees. -Ed.