On-time graduation up, dropouts down

Published 11:06pm Friday, September 13, 2013

Improvements almost across the board in on-time graduation and other measures this year are “good news,” the district’s chief of operations told a School Board meeting Thursday.

“They have shown marked improvement in on-time graduation … completion … and the dropout rate,” Kevin Alston said.

Division-wide, results improved over 2012 in all areas. On-time graduation rose from 84.08 percent to 87.24 percent, on-time completion from 86.54 percent to 89.25 percent, and the dropout rate fell to 8.11 percent from 9.96 percent.

According to preliminary figures reported at the meeting, on-time graduation at King’s Fork High School jumped from 79.85 percent to 85.71 percent.

On-time completion at King’s Fork increased from 83.58 percent to 88.22 percent, and the dropout rate — which includes unconfirmed data — went from 11.94 percent down to 9.02 percent.

“It’s the first time since 2008 (when the calculations started) King’s Fork has been in single digits on the dropout rate,” Alston reflected.

At Nansemond River High School, on-time graduation, on-time completion, and dropout rates, comparing against last year, went from 89.28 percent to 91.94 percent, 89.86 percent to 92.77 percent, and 6.67 percent to 4.73 percent, respectively.

Nansemond River “had improvement — I believe — in all areas,” Alston said.

But he acknowledged “one of those little blips” in the case of Lakeland High School. There, on-time graduation and on-time completion fell slightly from 84.87 percent to 84.73 percent and 87.83 percent to 87.42 percent, respectively, while dropouts climbed from 9.86 percent to 9.88 percent.

The on-time graduation rate measures the number of students who earn a diploma four years after first entering the ninth grade. The on-time completion rate, in addition to graduates, also includes those who earn a certificate of completion or GED.

While all three schools met benchmarks for accreditation based on the on-time graduation and completion results, poor overall Standards of Learning results are likely to leave Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools without full accreditation, and perhaps even threaten Nansemond River’s fully-accredited status.

There was no discussion at the meeting on why the situation might have improved, but graduation coach positions were recently added at high schools to encourage completion.

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  • deany

    are you going to demand more from your school system and stop reporting and taking in their warmed over truths!

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  • deany

    When they are given funds they create new it renamed positions in SAO, they burn their teachers out with unneces
    sary paperwork which should be done by the school administration, they retain ineffective principals because of friendships, their poor teachers are trying to remain loyal while starving death because of no raises in 7years and no step increase, which will affect their retirement. Come in citizens of Suffolk and the newspaper., when

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  • deany

    Jhuxster you are correct on so many points….when parents start taking education seriously than the children
    will follow. However, it seems the students swim the north end if town aren’t blowing the requirements out of the water either. They’re.exposed to a lot more resources at home and are just as non-chalant about learning. I agree money will not fix the problem if we don’t demand more
    accountability from our principals,

    staff put in the schools to address issues, and more specifically, the superintendent and the school board. When they are given funds.

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  • woodnymph558

    So Graduation is “UP” but what about LEARNING?..
    Shouldn’t schools be held accountablity for the students learning in order to be productive in the world?…Are schools, now, being PRAISED for graduation rates going up, instead of test scores? It seems that many State Boards of Education, try and “cook the books” each year to show that schools are doing better. But at the very end of the day, it should be what have the students really learned!!

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  • jhuxster

    Why is it that every time there’s an issue with a government agency the answer is always more money? At some point we need to deal with the reality of what many public schools face. Lakeland and Kings Fork are high schools that draw many of their students from economically disadvantaged families. Most of our schools offer special programs to allow students to catch up or get help. However, until they value education, no matter what the schools do, it’s not going to solve the problem. Many of the “parents” in these families do not value education, so they pass that life lesson on to the children. If you’re to look at numbers, the US already spends more money per student than any industrial nation in the world. If you spend $18,000 per student on students that don’t want to learn how will that increase school performance? Despite what many pundits believe, the critical element in education is the home–when parents get serious about education, then children get serious. Students who say they can’t afford paper and pencil can afford expensive phones and MP3 players. Students who claim they don’t have time to do their homework have time to text and play video games. Students who fall asleep in class do so because they were up late night playing games, talking with friends, or other such nonsense. If you REALLY want to improve the schools it starts at home. Parents–no sports if you don’t do your homework. No phone if you don’t make good grades. No MP3 unless your grades come up. If parents would grow up and be more like parents then children themselves, you would see academic performance increase. Spend all you want and you will never solve the problem–until the home is straight.

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    • Lucia01

      America’s greatest problem with our public schools is that we try to educate every child to the same level. We need to eliminate this wasteful SOL testing and institute barrier testing. For example, at the end of middle school, there should be a test to see which children are academically prepared to go on to a college-preparatory high school. Those who aren’t successful should then go to a vocational high school which would focus on preparing the students with the trade skills and work ethic to enter the workforce directly upon graduation. Apprenticeships need to be revisited as an educational option. Trying to do too much wastes money and hinders some students in the long run.

      Currently, public schools are tasked with preparing every student, regardless of ability or inclination, with too many general education skills, just in case they decide to go on to the university level. For example, in Virginia, every child has to pass Algebra I, in order to graduate. Not everyone needs that to be a productive taxpayer in our economy. When was the last time that you used an algebraic equation in our workplace? As a result of these demands as well as the lack of focus on vocational training, many students drop out or graduate unprepared to provide for themselves.

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  • NP

    I wonder if this could have been avoided if the CM and CC had fully funded the schools? There are inefficiencies in the school system but it would be nice if the city council would stand up to the CM and Ms. Seward and tell them to do better as they have told the school board.

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    • fingertothenose

      On time graduation rates have nothing to do with budget. You can’t fix the problems with the students by throwing money at it

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