It wasn't hard to find people who live in Georgia to talk about Georgia's dismal 67 percent graduation rate.
The new number released by the U.S. Department of Education shows that out of all 50 states Georgia ranks 47th worst for graduation rates, with New Mexico coming in at 63 percent and Nevada dead last at 62 percent.
"As a teacher, it is depressing only because we work so hard every day to try and make the students achieve," said Megan Hill.
Hill teaches ninth grade health in the Gwinnett County School District. Hill said she is not happy with the numbers but won't dwell on them, she'll just keep working hard every day.
"It motivates me to give more hours for tutoring, and push the children to strive to do their best always," Hill said.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said the numbers are not acceptable.
"I have been concerned about that for a very long time," Deal said. "That is one of the reasons why we continue to put a focus on our K-12 education. We got a lot of work to do. I think the general assembly has indicated their willingness to do that. We look forward to working with the Department of Education to try and improve the quality and graduate rate of our students, that is important."
State schools Superintendent John Barge said they expected a drop in the numbers based on the new way federal education officials tabulate the rates, but is still not pleased with the number.
"In fact, we are graduating more students in the state of Georgia than we ever have before," Barge said. "Are we happy to be where we are? Absolutely not."
High school senior Kyana Campbell said that some of her classmates have threatened to drop out. Campbell thinks it is because they don't realize how important that diploma will be for the rest of their lives.
"I think it's sad, I think most people who don't graduate are lazy or don't focus," Campbell said. "I think graduating is very important. If you don't graduate, what are you going to do? You can't get too many jobs or be successful in life if you don't have a diploma."
Barge said that the new way of calculating graduation rates is better, but that it does have downsides. For example, Barge said some states count diplomas received by students with special needs towards the number of students who graduate, Georgia does not.
"State law allows a special education diploma to count as a regular diploma," Barge said. "In Georgia, that is not acceptable. And that is not allowed in our state law."
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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