GCS Graduation Rate Reaches New High

A record-breaking 83.1 percent of Guilford County Schools (GCS) students graduated within four years as the Class of 2011, according to district data released today. This tops last year's previous record of 80.7 percent.

In addition, eight GCS high schools achieved 100 percent graduation rates: The Middle College at Bennett, Greensboro College Middle College, Penn-Griffin School for the Arts, The Early College at Guilford, The Middle College at GTCC-Greensboro, The Middle College at GTCC-Jamestown, The Middle College at GTCC-High Point and Weaver Academy.

Last year five schools reached the same goal, out of only 11 in the state. Statewide graduation rates for 2011 will be available in August, when the Department of Public Instruction briefs the State Board of Education.

"Guilford County Schools already had one of the highest graduation rates among large districts in the state, and we're excited to see that number rise," says Superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green. "It's a credit to our teachers and administrators that we are increasingly meeting our mission to prepare students for the career or higher education institution of their choice."

Gene Holder is one of those teachers. The Weaver Academy metals instructor inspired Matt Kelly, a recent Southeast High grad and Weaver student, to pursue his diploma after nearly dropping out. Their story was told in a recent front-page New York Times article , which explains how Holder and other teachers and counselors saw the potential in Kelly and helped him find a path to success through the Career and Technical Education program.

Southeast High was one of six schools that had graduation rates of between 90 and 99 percent. The other schools are The Academy at Smith, Northern High, The Middle College at N.C. A&T, Northwest High and Southwest High.

For schools with more than 1,000 students, such as Southeast, Southwest, Northern and Northwest, a graduation rate that high is a remarkable accomplishment. Last year, Northwest had the highest graduation rate in the state among schools of its size, and this year's rate, 94.5, is even higher. All GCS schools had graduation rates of more than 80 percent.

The GCS graduation rate has risen every year since 2006, when the state began using a four-year cohort method to calculate the information. The district's Strategic Plan calls for GCS to reach a 90 percent graduation rate by 2012.

This has been an exceptional year for the Class of 2011, which had a record-breaking $120 million in scholarship offers. This was also the first year GCS offered the Service-Learning Exemplary Award, which was received by 440 students.