The education of children and young adults is a crucial factor determining the long-term vitality and success of a community. Education is the gateway for opportunities, for overcoming poverty, and for individuals to obtain a higher quality of life. The goal of education is to facilitate intellectual development and to enable young adults to become contributing and productive members of their community. Below, six indicators are provided that are useful in monitoring progress toward the goal of providing a sound education that enables the community's children and young adults to become productive members of society.
The community's efforts in education and youth development have yielded improving results, but some challenges remain.
The education and youth development indicators are first grade readiness, 4th grade reading proficiency, high school graduation rate, out of school suspensions, disen-gaged young adults and teenage birth rates. These six indicators provide information useful in assessing progress toward the goal of providing a sound education that ena-bles the community's children and young adults to become productive members of society.
First grade readiness is measured among kindergarten-age children by GKIDS (formerly GKAP) test scores. The indicator is the percentage of kindergarten children who enter first grade with proficient English and Math skills. In 2012, Chatham County’s entering first grader public school students scored higher that the state average in English and Math.
Academic achievement is measured by two indicators, reading proficiency in fourth grade and the on-time high school graduation rate. In 2012, the fourth grade CRCT scores in reading increased by a large amount in both the county’s public schools and on a state-wide basis. Local public school fourth graders score slightly below the state average in reading. The on-time graduation rate for public high school remains below the state average.
Youth development is measured by three indicators: proportion of young adults not in school or working, the out of school suspension rate, and teenage birth rate. The pro-portion of young adults age 18 to 24 in the county who are not in school or working is nearly four percentage points less than the state rate. Further, the level of disengage-ment among 16- to 19-year-olds substantially declined and is now less than the state rate. The out of school suspension rates for both 9th and 12th graders increased in 2012 and remain above state averages. The teenage birth rate decreased dramatically and fell below the state level.