Monday, December 11, 2023
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Intentional strategies boosted graduation rate at Mays High School

by Thomas Scott

The APS class of 2023 was a special class that made district history by achieving the highest graduation rate and surpassing the state average.

APS achieved its all-time high graduation rate (86.6 percent) and exceeded the state graduation rate of 84.4 percent by 2.2 percentage points, according to graduation data released today by the Georgia Department of Education.

“I am incredibly proud of the graduating Class of 2023,” APS Interim Superintendent Dr. Danielle Battle said. “We are simply elated to celebrate another historic accomplishment! Our students and staff have worked extremely hard to increase our graduation rate and for our results to surpass the state average is truly a testament to the tremendous efforts of everyone in Atlanta Public Schools. We plan to continue building on this momentum by amplifying the work we’re currently doing.”

Mays High School was one of the schools that made great strides in improving their graduation rate (89.9%) with a 5.7 percentage-point gain compared to 2022.

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“A principal couldn’t ask for much more,” Mays High School principal Ramon Garner said. “That says to me that there are some really great systems and structures in place, and my job is to continue that work and take it to the next level.”

The staff at Mays High School implemented multiple strategies to help achieve the 89.9% graduation rate, but one of the more impactful strategies was making sure each student met with a counselor to help them stay on course for graduation.

“Of course, our goal is for 100% of our scholars to graduate,” Mays senior academy assistant principal Valerie Reed Taylor said. “But my primary role is working with Ms. (Tonya) McKenzie, the counseling team, the graduation coaches, and the college advisors to make sure that our students have everything in place that they need to be successful this year, as well as developing individualized post-graduation plans for all of our scholars.”

Mays also implemented repeater courses into schedules for students to retake courses in a classroom in the spring semester that they may have failed in the fall. They also made sure EOC courses were scheduled in a timely manner and worked with the night school program as well to ensure students were able to recover the courses they needed.

“Our team, along with some of our other colleagues who are not here now, worked really hard to make sure our kids were successful,” Mays business manager and master scheduler Tonya McKenzie said.

The hard work paid off and inspired the next class of scholars in the halls of Mays High School. Jacob Jordan, a senior in the class of 2024 at Mays, said the 2023 graduation rate has motivated him to aim even higher.

“I want our class to be higher than the 89.9%,” he said. “I want us to be in the 90-91% range. That also helps me to motivate my classmates to do better.”

Jordan often visits with his school counselor, who helps him stay on top of his grades. He also makes use of the Mays High School College and Career Center for his school assignments and college application preparations.

“My counselor, she’s there for me,” Jordan said. “Anytime I need something, I know I can go in her office, sit down and talk to her about it. She’s always making sure I’m on track with my grades.”

The teachers, staff and students at Mays High School are continuing the work that helped them reach that 89.9% graduation rate and pushing for another increase with the class of 2024.

“I can already tell they are pushing to get over that 90%,” Dr. Battle said.

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