It’s Scary but True! 3 Atlanta Charter Schools Surpass Average State Graduation Rate and Guess What? We’re Not Done!

It’s not a cliche’, charter schools are constantly increasing student achievement. This post is information provided by EdLanta’s partner, the Georgia Charter School Association and Rally.

Newly released 2019 high school graduation rates show that all three public charter high schools in the city of Atlanta are delivering on the promise of helping young people develop the academic skills needed to graduate high school and succeed in the world and beyond.

2019 High School Graduation Rate Report Indicates Three Charter High Schools are Strengthening Atlanta’s Public School System

The graduation rates for Atlanta Classical Academy, Charles R. Drew Charter School and KIPP Atlanta Collegiate all surpassed the average state graduation rate of 82 percent. These three tuition-free public schools also contributed to Atlanta Public Schools achieving its second-highest graduation rate, 77.9 percent, since the Georgia Department of Education moved to the federal system of tracking graduates seven years ago.

“We are extremely proud of these schools’ graduation rates, which are a testament to the hard work of APS students, teachers and school leaders,” said Tony Roberts, President and CEO of Georgia Charter Schools Association. “Charter schools give school leaders and teachers the flexibility to take creative approaches to education, and these schools all demonstrate a deep commitment to preparing students for higher education, career and life.”

Atlanta Classical Academy is a K-12 charter school that serves students from every cluster in the Atlanta Public Schools district. The members of the class of 2019 —its first graduating class—had a graduation rate of 88.6 percent and earned over $5.2M in merit-based aid. ACA uses the flexibility afforded to charter schools to deliver a classical, content-rich curriculum that emphasizes virtuous living, traditional learning and civic responsibility. 

“We’re proud of all of our students, but in particular our first graduating class, the class of 2019,” said Chris Knowles, ACA Principal. “Most were with us since 8th grade and all completed a demanding academic program that culminated with the senior thesis, a project that requires students to write and defend before a faculty panel a lengthy paper in which they seek to synthesize truth and wisdom from classical works of literature, art, science, philosophy and history. This is a challenging intellectual rite of passage that prepares students well for future academic pursuits and to take their place as strong, productive citizens who have considered carefully what it means to live well.”

Drew Charter School, the city of Atlanta’s first public charter school, which has a project-based learning approach and STEAM-focused curriculum, had a graduation rate of 96.6 percent. Drew, which serves more than 1,800 students in Pre-K through 12th grade, represents the cradle-to-college pipeline in the East Lake community and is an integral part of a holistic neighborhood revitalization led by the East Lake Foundation.

“The Class of 2019 represents Drew’s third graduating class, and we are extremely proud of our graduates and the strong post-secondary plans we have prepared them to pursue,” said Peter McKnight, the Head of School at Drew Charter School. “Over the past three years, our graduates have been awarded the Gates Scholarship, Posse Scholarship, Questbridge Scholarship and Five Strong Scholarships. This year, Class of 2019 graduates were admitted for the first time to Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Pratt Institute and Carnegie Mellon University.” 

KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, which is part of the KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools network, had a graduation rate of 86.3 percent. This is KIPP Collegiate’s fifth high school graduating class and not only has the high school maintained a high graduation rate over time, but 70% of the Class of 2019 matriculated to college this past fall. KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools offers students and families a robust learning environment in which students develop the academic skills, scholarly habits, and character traits they need to succeed in college and in life.

Jamaal Beazer II, a recent graduate of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate and current undergraduate at American University in Washington D.C. said KIPP staff prepared him for academic success and pushed him to dream big. “KIPP empowered me to be the best by reinforcing the idea that I can be the best at anything I set my mind to,” said Beazer. “Take my business, for example; I am developing a fitness app that makes working out easier for the everyday person. If you would have asked me if I had planned to go into app development for a business in 9th, 10th, or even 12th grade, I would have said no. It was that empowering motivation that led me and still guides me to be the best at what I do, in everything I do.”

Georgia calculates high school graduation rates using the using the “adjusted cohort graduation rate” as required by federal law. The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort. The “adjusted cohort” adds students that transfer into the original cohort and subtracts those who transfer out after the ninth grade.  

For more information on APS’ 2019 graduation data, visit APS Insights or Georgia Department of Education

The Georgia Charter Schools Association is a nonprofit membership organization for Georgia’s public charter schools and petitioners. Our mission is to advocate for, foster and support autonomous, high-quality charter public schools throughout Georgia. We believe every child in Georgia should have equal access to a high-quality, transformative public education.


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