According to Renee Bridges, Dougherty County School System Testing Coordinator, the new calculation includes fifth year seniors, and beginning in 2012 it will include summer graduates in the graduation rate calculation whereas the current method does not. The biggest change, she says, is that when parents withdraw a student from the system to transfer to another system, if the student is not accounted for at that new system it counts as a dropout in the previous school system.From a press release issued by the Georgia Department of Education, State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge says that the new formula provides a more accurate, uniform look at how many students we are graduating from high school. He also added that "I believe that in order to tackle a problem you have to have honest and accurate data. We will be able to use this new data as a baseline to see how our important initiatives are impacting graduation rates in the future. We TMve known for some time and communicated that this new formula would show a lower graduation rate than the rate under the previous formula; however, regardless of calculation formula, the state has significantly raised graduation rates over the last several years, but there is still much work to do."The release also clarifies how the new calculation is different from the state's current method of calculation. The new four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate defines the cohort based on when a student first becomes a freshman. The rate is calculated using the number of students who graduate within four years and includes adjustments for student transfers. In contrast, Georgia TMs current graduation rate calculation defines the cohort upon graduation, which may include students who take more than four years to graduate from high school. Over the past five years, the state TMs traditional graduation rate has gradually increased, rising from 70.8 percent in 2006 to 80.9 percent in 2011.To read the release in it's entirety along with data on the state's graduation rates, visit the Georgia Department of Education .