Georgia’s graduation rate hits all time high

Georgia’s graduation rate increased again in 2020, rising to 83.8 percent – an all-time high since the state began using the adjusted cohort calculation now required by federal law, and up from 82 percent in 2019.

Georgia’s graduation rate has increased by 14.1 percentage points since 2012, with steady increases each year.

In 2020, 105 Georgia school districts and 230 schools recorded graduation rates at or above 90 percent. Twenty-nine districts and 89 schools recorded rates at or above 95 percent.

“I’m very proud today of the class of 2020,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These students were faced with difficulties none of us could have imagined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have shown over and over again — in ACT and SAT results, in their personal accomplishments, and now in this graduation rate – that they were able to rise above. While these results are positive, we cannot stop here. We must provide tailored and personalized pathways to ensure every student sees the relevance in their education, stays in school, and receives a high-school diploma that prepares them for their future.”  

Waiver for students with significant cognitive disabilities

Part of this year’s increase in graduation rate can be attributed to a waiver the Georgia Department of Education received from the U.S. Department of Education in 2019.


Beginning with 2020 graduates, the waiver allows the state to count students with the most significant cognitive disabilities – those assessed with the Georgia Alternate Assessment, about 1% of students overall – in the four-year graduation rate the year they graduate, even if that is more than four years after they begin high school. To be counted, the student’s graduation still must fall within the window for which they are guaranteed a Free Appropriate Public Education.

In Georgia, students are guaranteed free appropriate education through the age of 22. This change ensures schools are not penalized for continuing to educate students with the most significant cognitive disabilities within that window, knowing they may need additional time to master skills before graduating.

In 2020, this change allowed for the cohort of approximately 1,000 students to be reassigned. This accounts for only a portion of the increase – if those students’ cohort had not been reassigned, the graduation rate would have increased by 1.09 percentage points, as opposed to 1.80.

How Georgia calculates its graduation rate

Georgia calculates a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as required by federal law. This rate is:

  • The number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma, divided by
  • The number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class

Georgia Graduation Rates – 2012 to 2020

2020 – 83.8 percent

2019 – 82.0 percent

2018 – 81.6 percent

2017 – 80.6 percent

2016 – 79.4 percent

2015 – 79.0 percent

2014 – 72.6 percent

2013 – 71.8 percent

2012 – 69.7 percent

More Information



Related Posts