On October 20, the Virginia Department of Education reported that 83.2 percent of students in the Class of 2009 earned their diplomas on time, an increase of 1 percent over the Class of 2008. Asian students, at 93.3 percent, had the highest graduation rates, followed by whites (87 percent), African Americans (75.7 percent), and Hispanics (72.3 percent). The graduation rate represents the percentage of students who were first-time ninth-graders during the 2005-06 school year and earned a Board of Education-approved diploma within four years.
“A one-point increase in the graduation rate represents nearly one thousand additional young men and women who earned diplomas and are ready for postsecondary education or entry level employment,” said Patricia I. Wright, Virginia’s superintendent of public instruction. “Building a long-term trend of rising graduation rates will require a continued student-by-student approach by educators, as well as the sustained involvement of parents and strong partnerships with community institutions.”
To perform the calculation, Virginia relied on its longitudinal tracking system, which allows the state to track individual students from year to year and account for student mobility and retention. This is the second year that the state used this method to calculate its graduation rate.
In addition to helping the state report a more reliable graduation rate, the longitudinal data system also allows Virginia to look for patterns among students who drop out. For example, 51.4 percent of students who dropped out did so by the end of the tenth grade. Additionally, students who repeated grades, were frequently absent, and/or attended multiple schools were more likely to drop out.
Data for individual schools and groups of students is available from the Virginia Department of Education athttp://www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/NewHome/pressreleases/2009/oct20.html.