Peach dropout rate declines

FORT VALLEY — Peach County High School had a nearly one percentage point decrease in the number of dropouts in a three-year period, according to data from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

The data, presented at the Peach County school board meeting Tuesday night, shows a dropout rate of 5.1 percent of its 1,307 students during the 2007-2008 school year, down from 5.9 percent of its 1,349 students in the 2005-2006 school year.

Statewide, the dropout rate was 3.6 percent during the 2007-2008 school year, the data showed.

Peach County Superintendent Susan Clark said she expects the dropout rate to continue decreasing, with improvements beginning with the students’ preparation before high school.

“This is due to efforts of the teachers and administrators in the school district,” Clark said.

Peach County schools also received the second annual State Superintendent Award for the highest improvement in biology end-of-course test scores. Peach County High School had the sixth highest improvement on test scores in the subject in the state, raising its scores 21.3 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

During the school board’s work session last week, assessment/testing coordinator Jeff Fitz presented data on retakes from the Georgia High School Graduation Test this fall.

In all subjects, a higher percentage of students who retook portions of the test in 2009 passed them than last year, though a higher number of students also retook the tests than last year.

For the English and language arts portion, 11 percent of 19 test takers passed in fall 2008, while this fall, 50 percent of 40 test takers passed the section, according to the data. For the social studies section, 26 percent of the 27 test takers in 2008 passed, while in 2009, that number rose to 62 percent of its 51 students.

The typical statewide passing rate on a GHSGT retest is 22 percent, according to the Georgia Department of Education, Fitz said.

There are still 45 students who need to retake at least one section of the test, Fitz said, and they will have the chance to do so this month and in March.

The Peach County High School Symphonic Band also was recognized at Tuesday’s school board meeting. The band was selected by the National Wind Band Honors Project as a state-level winner and competed against 114 bands across the nation. After playing selections such as “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace” at the meeting, the audience gave them a standing ovation.

“Today, you have made my life and my work worthwhile,” Clark beamed after their performance.

In other business, the board approved the minutes of its Oct. 6 meeting and its Oct. 27 work session in a 3-0 vote. Board members Ben McDaniel and Jody Usry were not present.

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 256-9751.