Big Bend counties see major drops in graduation rates

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-24 08:15:14-05

(WTXL) - Florida's high school graduation rate continues to climb, but two Big Bend counties saw major drops last year.

The Florida Department of Education put out rates for all 67 counties for 2016-17 school year and at the very bottom are Gadsden and Jefferson counties.

Looking at Gadsden County, the district has the lowest graduation rate in the state, at just 50 percent. It also had the state's biggest drop from the year before, down 18.4 percent.

We reached to superintendent Roger Milton to learn more but he was unavailable for comment.

In Jefferson County, not much better, with the state's second-lowest graduation rate at 53.7 percent. The year before that number was at 70 percent.

The superintendent says because the district is relatively small, a few students make a big difference with the numbers. She also says news of the district's decision to transition to a charter may have had an impact.

"The ensuing uncertainty for all staff -- not just teachers -- we lost momentum and impetus in the classroom," the superintendent of Jefferson County Schools Marianne Arbulu explained, "and I have to assume that accounted for some of the loss of student gains and ability for students to get the credits."

Looking at other local counties, Hamilton was down 16 percent. Several other districts saw slight drops including Leon County.

Three local districts did improve their rates, Franklin, Liberty and Suwannee, which had the big bend's highest graduation rate at 90.5 percent.

You can find the full list from the Florida Department of Education here.