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Governor Perdue Announces Substantial Decreases in High School Dropouts; Increases in Graduation Rates

Friday, September 28, 2007  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Graduation Rate Already Increased by 9 Points in Four Years;

Governor Sets Goal of 80% Graduation Rate by 2010


            MARIETTA, Ga. - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today a dramatic decrease in the number of high school dropouts for grades 9-12 for the 2006-2007 school year, down by 2,272 from the 2005-2006 school year.  Governor Perdue also announced an increase in Georgia’s 2006-2007 graduation rate to 72.3 percent, and set a goal of 80 percent graduation rate by 2010.

            “Today I am proud to announce that, in just their first year of service, graduation coaches were able to save 2,272 students from dropping out of high school,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “That’s equivalent to the entire student body here at Marietta High School. We want our high school students to have the best possible shot at life and that starts with a solid education and a high school diploma.”

Georgia saw this dramatic decrease in the numbers of dropouts despite continuing increases in attendance figures -- an increase of 9,600 new students added to the state high schools last year. 

Georgia’s high school graduation rate of 72.3 percent has steadily risen nine points from 63.3 percent, since the 2002-2003 school year when Governor Perdue first took office.  Governor Perdue further challenged schools today by setting a goal of 80 percent graduation rates by 2010.

“I am very proud of the progress we’ve made, but I know that with the hard work of our educators, graduation coaches, students and families, we can do better,” said Governor Perdue. “In just over three years, we all work together to increase the graduation rate by another eight points.”

“This type of progress doesn't happen by accident. It takes a team effort that stretches from the school hallways and kitchen tables to the board of education meeting rooms and the Gold Dome of the Capitol. I know that if we continue to set high expectations for all of our students we will continue to see dramatic improvements in our graduation rate,” said State School Superintendent Kathy Cox. “I'm very proud of the hard work of our graduation coaches over the past year and not just because they are helping us change our statistics. They are changing the lives of students by keeping them in school, keeping them motivated to learn and keeping them focused on the future. Congratulations to everyone involved with the coach program.”

There are currently 336 coaches working in Georgia high schools.  Governor Perdue first funded high school graduation coaches in the FY07 budget. Based on the success of the High School Graduation Coach program, Governor Perdue extended the program to Middle Schools across the state at the beginning of the 2007-2008 school year.

Statistics show that only six percent of the jobs in the United States can be filled by a worker without a high school diploma.  That means 94 out of 100 jobs require at least a high school education. 

Under Governor Perdue’s vision, the graduation coach’s primary responsibility is to identify and work with at-risk students and help them get back on the graduation track before they drop out. The coach also identifies, recruits and engages concerned organizations and agencies to serve in a variety of support roles in their respective communities. In their first few months of work, Georgia high school graduation coaches:


  • Identified 40,000 high school students who are credit deficient and not on schedule to graduate with their class;
  • Identified 46,000 students as having missed 15 or more days of school during the previous school year;
  • Assessed at-risk students’ academic performance and risk factors;
  • Helped more than 18,000 students develop an individual graduation plan (Peach State Pathways Plan);
  • Matched students with more than 1,500 community mentors in place to work with students; and
  • Organized tutoring, mentoring and credit recovery programs for students.


In addition to the Graduation Coach Program, Governor Perdue credits other initiatives with the increase in graduation rates and decrease in dropout rates, such as:


  • Taking away student drivers’ licenses for 10 or more unexcused absences;
  • Taking away student drivers’ licenses for dropping out of school;
  • Establishing the virtual school so all high school students have access to a wide variety of courses;
  • Spending more per student than ever before;
  • Attracting the best teachers through a culture of respect (Master Teacher Certification & highest average salary in SE).