Georgia's high school graduation rate of 67 percent ranks it behind all of its neighboring states and puts it among the lowest in the nation under new federal measurements released by the U.S. Department of Education.
The report details four-year high school graduation rates in 2010-11 - the first year for which all states used a common measure, federal officials say.
Only two states -- Nevada and New Mexico -- and the District of Columbia fared worse than Georgia in the new rankings released Monday.
"It's disappointing, of course, but it's good to know the real truth, if you will, of where we stand," said Tim Callahan, a spokesman for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.
"Not that many years ago, we were using sort of a feel-good calculation that some people were saying was as high as 80 percent," Callahan said. "I think the more honest calculation will help us address the problem more honestly."
In the past, states used varying methods to calculate their graduation rates, so the numbers were unreliable for state-by-state comparisons, federal officials said in announcing the new numbers.
The new data can be used by states, districts and schools to promote greater accountability and increase graduation rates, the federal education agency said.
Despite the low ranking, Georgia's graduation rate has been improving in recent years, regardless of which methods are used to calculate it, state School Superintendent John Barge said.
Asked how he would explain the low rate to corporations considering a move to Georgia, Barge said initiatives are in place to make needed improvements.
"We're not where we need to be, but we do have the right pieces in place to continue to move the needle forward on graduation rates," he said.