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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