BULLOCH CO., GA (WTOC) - More high school students in the state of Georgia will be getting their diplomas in May.
The state released 2015 graduation rates Monday and it shows an overall up-tick in the state average.
Overall, high schools in the area are above the state average this year, and they all saw an increase in the number of students graduating compared to last year.
The average graduation rate for the state of Georgia this year is 78.8 percent, up from nearly 73 percent last year.
But school districts in our area all surpassed that number.
At least four out of five students will graduate from Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, and Liberty County high schools this year.
If you compare those to last year's numbers, you see a big increase in 2015. The biggest change is in Chatham County, with a jump of almost 13 percentage points.
The Bulloch County Schools Superintendent, Charles Wilson, says the elimination of the Georgia High School Graduation Test has something to do with it.
"The ongoing debate of high-stakes testing is the distress it causes and should something like graduation be tied to a single test. Which is why I think in this particular instance they removed it, because it's more about student outcomes than just passing a test," said Wilson.
Bulloch County has seen a steady increase in its graduation rates, with numbers higher than the state average for five of the last six years.
Wilson says his district's success has come from support from the school board and everyone being on the same page strategically.
"From the board to the superintendent down to the administration at the school down to the classroom," he said.
He said increased involvement by parents and the community in Bulloch County have made a positive difference. Their main goal is to set aside other political and personal distractions and simply focus on the well-being of students.
"When the adults that have the impact on the students are enjoying what they do, and when they're allowed to do what they want to do in relation to student learning, you see a direct impact on student achievement," Wilson said. "And I think that's exactly what we're seeing right here. When people are happy, students do well."
Nearly all high schools in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System improved their graduation rate over last year with five of 11 achieving double-digit gains.
And according to SCCPSS Superintendent Dr. Thomas Lockamy, this year marks a first.
"This is the greatest news in a number of years regarding the graduation rate. While
our district has shown improvement each year, we have now surpassed the state average since the cohort data has been published. It's another great accomplishment for our district and clearly demonstrates the high level of commitment our faculty and staff have in preparing our students for a successful future," said Lockamy.
Also keep in mind, this is the first time these numbers have been looked at since the Georgia High School Graduation test was eliminated.