Albany - - Georgia's high school graduation rate remains well below the national average. Part of the problem may be a shortage of qualified teachers in the classrooms. The University System of Georgia says the state needs to produce almost seven times the number of math and science teachers to meet a critical need over the next three years.
It's that one moment in time you pray comes for your child, graduation. A national report says just over half of Georgia high school students actually get to this point.
"These statistics show us what we need to do and what we need to work on and that we need to address programs and efforts to raise our graduation rate," says Robert Youngblood of Dougherty County Schools.
Over the past few years, the state has slightly improved its low graduation rate, up to 70.8 percent last year from 65.4 percent in 2004.
But Dougherty County continues to fall behind with a rate of 57.5 percent last year, compared to 58.1 percent in 2004.
School system administrators say Dougherty sets its standards high.
"In Dougherty County for instance we use the CRCT as part of our promotion criteria and its used for every grade. In some counties, they only use grades 3, 5, and 8 because that's the state required grades that's administered for promotion," Youngblood says.
As if the low graduation rate isn't enough, the University System also says Georgia doesn't have nearly enough math and science teachers.
"Certainly if you don't have the most qualified people teaching the courses, then its going to be more difficult for those students to pass the graduation courses and that sort of thing," says Math and Science Dean Robert Wynegar of Darton College.
He says Darton offers programs for students to study high school math and science, but students aren't signing up.
"It could be a fear of math and science itself. Could be the students who are capable of doing the math and science, the ones who really like that field, think 'well I'll get a degree in engineering instead and make twice as much money," he says.
He also says the college and the state have tried massive recruitment efforts but the shortage remains. So how do you fix the problem?
"If you want somebody, be willing to pay them, if you don't want them, then don't pay them," Wynegar says.
The price may affect whether your child makes it to graduation day.
Darton offers a program to attract more students to math, science, education, and engineering majors. The state is launching a similar program to try to boost the number of college graduates in needed fields from 4,700 to 7,200 in the next five years.