For Immediate Release
September 19, 2018
Contact: Monica Henson
Phone: (706) 299-9007
Graduation Achievement Charter High School Almost Triples
2018 Graduation Rate as Doors Are Set to Close
Atlanta, Georgia (September 19, 2018)—After six years of successfully serving high-risk high school students throughout Georgia, culminating in a board decision to close the school due to the unwillingness of the State Charter Schools Commission (SCSC) to renew the charter, Graduation Achievement Charter High School (GACHS) has posted a 2018 four-year cohort graduation rate of 18.09%, almost three times its 2017 rate and nearly double its highest previous rate of 9.2% in 2014.
“This success is the result of three years of focused school improvement work led by our outstanding deputy superintendent, Gale Stein, and her academic leadership team, supported by a great school effectiveness coaching team from the Georgia Department of Education,” said GACHS superintendent and chief executive officer Dr. Monica Henson. “Meaningful school improvement is hard work that takes years. It’s not achieved when the numbers are gamed, but when teachers and administrators roll up their sleeves and get the instructional job done.”
Henson contrasted the work done at GACHS with tactics being used by some other Commission charter schools serving high school students. “We achieved this improvement without eliminating lower-performing grade levels or tinkering with enrollment policies, practices that are being encouraged by the SCSC to be implemented in schools that don’t outperform districts. We played on the same playing field as district public high schools, which don’t have the luxury of gaming the numbers by closing grade levels or entire high schools when their performance suffers.”
GACHS Board Chair Lt. Commander Herbert Jones (Ret.) praised the work of the GACHS academic team and noted that the board and administration upheld the mission of the school even when it hurt their standing with the authorizer: “We had an extraordinary academic team, and it shows. Our mission has never been to engage in a contest to say we are better than any other school system, but to save the economic lives of kids with few or no other options.”
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A final report by Momentum Strategy & Research summarizing the impact of the school’s work over six years, as well as the consequences already arising due to its closure, has been commissioned by the board of directors and will be released to the public before the nonprofit charter corporation is dissolved. Momentum is a Colorado based non-profit organization committed to helping schools, school districts, charter school authorizers, and state departments of education to get accountability right. The nonprofit specializes in working with schools that are “not validly and/or reliably measured by traditional academic measures of accountability,” according to its LinkedIn profile.
GACHS ended the academic year with 360 graduates. The executive leadership of the charter school is in the final days of closing out the financial and operational work of the district. The district will cease to exist on September 30.
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