MACON, Ga. — While graduation rates are climbing in almost every Central Georgia school district, two schools are candidates for "Most Improved."

Twiggs County schools and Bibb County's Southwest High School have doubled their graduation rates over seven years.

In 2012, the first year Georgia used its current counting system, Southwest's graduation rate was 39.1 percent, one of the state's worst.'

That means that more than six out of 10 students who ended the ninth grade didn't graduate four years later.

Last year, Southwest's rate was 80.9 -- just a point behind the state average.

Meanwhile, Twiggs County jump-started their graduation rate from 45 percent in 2012 to nearly 90 percent last year.

They're not the only big gainers in Central Georgia. Wilcox County and Macon County schools and Bibb's Northeast High School all raised their graduation rates by more than 30 points over six years.

Georgia's Department of Education released their 2019 graduation rates on Wednesday. They reported that Georgia's graduation rate hit 82 percent. That's up 12 points over 2012.

Some other highlights from the state report:

  • Nine Central Georgia high schools or districts earned A marks by graduating 90 percent of their seniors.

They are Wilkinson, Bleckley, Putnam, Baldwin, Dodge and Wilcox counties, Houston County High, Perry High School and Bibb County's charter school, the Academy of Classical Education.

  • The ACE academy graduated all 65 members of the class of 2019, 100 percent.
  • In Bibb County, six of the seven high schools had 80 percent graduation rates. The district's total rate is 79.4 percent, up 27 points.
  • Houston County's rate was 87.9 percent, up 12 points in seven years.
  • The region's lowest graduation rate last year was in Crawford County, where just over 2 out of 3 students graduated. They're still up 10.6 points since 2012.
  • The only district in Central Georgia where the graduation rate dropped was Hancock County -- from 86.5 percent seven years ago to 80 percent this year.

Here’s what some of Central Georgia’s school superintendents said about the new graduation rates.

CURTIS JONES, Bibb County: "The latest numbers released today by the Georgia Department of Education show the District is continuing to close the gap with the state. Five out of six of our high schools now have a graduation rate of 80 percent or higher. This success is not just because of what high schools are doing; it is because everyone in our schools and throughout our community is coming together in a concentrated effort to make sure students graduate. We have to celebrate this victory."

MARK SCOTT, Houston County: “We are pleased that our graduation rate continues to outperform the state. We will not rest, though, until 100 percent of our students graduate, ready for college and careers. Offering students the choice of an online high school, WIN Academy, is one strategy that will help more of our students succeed. I am proud that all five of our high schools continue to outpace the state average. I am especially proud that Perry High School gained almost five percentage points over last year’s rate!”

STEVE SMITH, Bleckley County: Our staff and students strive for excellence in all aspects of their lives, and their hard work does not go unnoticed. We are extremely blessed to have supportive parents and a wonderful community

who value education. Every achievement, every success, and every recognition are the result of adults who care and pour themselves into our endeavor to achieve a 100 percent graduation rate, because we want every student to succeed.”

NORIS PRICE, Baldwin County: “I am very proud to see that our graduation rate is outpacing the state considerably and holding near the record levels that we have been able to achieve over the past several years,” said BCSD Superintendent Dr. Noris Price. “Our teachers administrators, support staff, students, parents and community members have been working tirelessly over the past several years to see to it that every student gets the education they deserve and the success of our graduation rate shows their hard work is paying off.”

MIKE HICKMAN, Monroe County: "The graduation rate for the 2018-2019 school year is truly a collaborative effort. This achievement is a testament to the efforts of a supportive and informed BOE, dedicated and talented Pre-K-12 teachers, effective administrators and support personnel, engaged parents and community members, and motivated and inspired students. This is truly great work by all stakeholder groups. Our entire staff has done an outstanding job getting students ready for post-secondary education, the world of work, and military service."

FRED WILLIAMS, Dublin: “Today’s announcement is the realization of years of hard work by our students and educators. We are continuing to see improvement not only in the annual totals, but also in each of our cohorts at both our high schools and our district. Ultimately, more students earning diplomas means more young adults ready to be gainfully employed, productive members of our community. That’s a win-win for everyone, and High Achievement and Success personified.”

The 2019 graduation rates in Central Georgia and how they've changed since 2012:

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