On time grad rate below average

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, October 8, 2008

All three Suffolk public high schools were below the state average in the newly released on-time graduation rate numbers.

Statewide, the Virginia On-Time Graduation Rate for the class of 2008 was 81.3 percent. In Suffolk, King’s Fork High School’s on-time graduation rate was 67 percent; for Lakeland, it was 69 percent, and for Nansemond River, it was 80.6 percent, less than a percentage point shy of the statewide rate. The Suffolk Public Schools on-time graduation rate was 71.9, nearly 10 percentage points below the state’s number.

This is the first year the Virginia On-Time Graduation Rate has been reported. It is a graduation rate based on individual student-level data tracked over time. The rate is calculated by dividing the number of students earning a diploma in 2008 by the number of students who entered the ninth grade for the first time in 2004-2005, plus transfers in and minus transfers out and deceased students.


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Diplomas counted for the Virginia on-time graduation rate are advanced studies, standard, modified standard, special and general achievement. Students who earn a GED or certificate of completion are not counted as graduates when calculating the on-time graduation rate.

“We were not surprised, because … that’s close to what we’ve been reporting all along,” said Kevin Alston, assistant superintendent for administrative services.

“Were we pleased? No. Disappointed? Yes. We’re putting steps in place to improve.”

Alston pointed to several measures the school division has taken to try to keep students in school, such as remediation classes and assigning mentors to at-risk students.

“This is a baseline,” he said. “We’re going to be looking to improve on it every year.”

The on-time graduation rate also is calculated by subgroups – female, male, black, Hispanic, white, Asian, American Indian, other ethnic groups, students with disabilities, students identified as disadvantaged, students with limited English proficiency and homeless students. Suffolk Public Schools’ subgroup numbers break down like this:

Female students: 76.4

Male students: 67.8

Black students: 69.2

Hispanic students: 87.5

White students: 75.1

Asian students: 72.7

American Indian students: Zero students

Other ethnic groups: 70.6

Students with disabilities: 58.2

Students identified as disadvantaged: 59.4

Limited English proficiency students: Zero students

Homeless: 76.9