Grad rates

Pierce County graduation rate still above state average at 85.9

Pierce County’s four year graduation rate fell four tenths of a point from 2019 and ranked last of the nine counties in the Okefenokee Regional Educational Services Agency (RESA), but is still higher than the state’s average.

Pierce County’s Class of 2020 graduation rate was 85.9. The high school graduated 244 of the 284 students who entered as freshmen in 2016.

The graduation rate data was released last week by the Georgia Department of Education.

School superintendent Dara Bennett acknowledged the graduation rate is not where it needs to be, but expressed optimism that would soon change.

“I am confident that the Pierce County graduation rate will improve. The Pierce County School System remains committed to support all of our students  as they strive to receive their  high school diploma,” she said.

PCHS principal Kelly Murray echoed Bennett’s remarks.

“Our graduation rate reflects the high expectations and accountability standards PCHS has become known for.  Many factors affect a school’s reported graduation rate: student enrollments/transfers, local school system graduation and attendance requirements, etc.  We’re proud of the work our students and staff do every day at PCHS and of the top-notch education our students receive to ensure they are college and/or career ready when they walk across our graduation stage.  Our staff remains committed to raising our graduation rate and student achievement in all areas.”

The graduation rate is calculated by taking the freshman class enrollment and tracking them through their senior year. The grad rate can be affected by dropouts, students with academic difficulty and discipline issues.

The local graduation rate was higher than the state rate by a little over two points. The state graduation rate of 83.8 for 2020 was an all time high in the eight years the state has been using the current ranking.

The statewide graduation rate has climbed from 69.7 percent in 2012, the first year Georgia began using a federal measure to calculate rates.

Typically tops in the region, Pierce’s graduation rate was at the bottom compared to area schools. Okefenokee RESA includes Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Camden, Charlton, Clinch, Coffee, Pierce and Ware.

Camden County led the area with a graduation rate of 95.6. Brantley followed with 94.4, Bacon was third with 92.9, Atkinson was fourth with 91.9 and Ware County was fifth with 91.7. Charlton, Clinch and Coffee followed close to each other with rates of 90.9, 90.6 and 90.3 respectively.

Pierce’s current rate was also down from last year’s rate of 86.3.

Okefenokee RESA Graduation Rates:

Camden 95.6

Brantley 94.4

Bacon  92.9

Atkinson  91.9

Ware 91.7

Charlton 90.9

Clinch 90.6

Coffee  90.3

Pierce  85.9