Graduation rate falls slightly

Published 10:03 pm Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Suffolk Public Schools’ graduation rate took a slight drop this year, but district officials say they are still pleased with the improvement from several years ago.

Division-wide, the on-time graduation rate was 86.4 percent this year, down from 87.2 percent last year. The dropout rate, meanwhile, increased to 8.8 percent from 8.1.

The numbers were reported Wednesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

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“Overall, we have been pleased with the increase in the number of students graduating from our schools over the last four years,” district spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw wrote in an email.

“Our goal will be to continue to build on that progress by addressing the area(s) that caused the slight decline this past year both at the school and district levels.”

In 2011, the on-time graduation rate was almost five percentage points lower than this year, and dropouts were two percentage points higher.

Among Suffolk’s three high schools, Nansemond River’s rates were improved from last year.

Its on-time graduation rate rose slightly to 92.3 percent, while the dropout rate fell more than a percentage point to 3.6.

Lakeland’s on-time graduation rate, however, fell almost two points to 82.9 percent, while its dropout rate rose to 11.6 percent from about 10 percent last year.

And King’s Fork had an 84.7 percent on-time graduation rate, about one percentage point worse than last year, and a 10.7-percent dropout rate, compared to 9 percent last year.

Statewide, on-time graduation rose to 89.9 percent, compared with 89.1 percent last year and 81.3 percent in 2008.

The dropout rate across the state was 5.4 percent in this year, down from 8.7 percent — about the same as the rate that persists in Suffolk — in 2008.

Bradshaw added that principals would keep analyzing the data and determine what contributed to the slight decline.

“Based on their findings, measures will be put in place to improve in the identified area(s),” Bradshaw wrote. “These improvement strategies will be included in each school’s improvement plan.”

Each school’s unique challenges “must be addressed according to the individual needs of the students and staff. We understand the role every teacher from preschool to grade 12 plays in preparing students to be career and college ready.”

The other four South Hampton Roads school divisions saw increases in graduation rates, as did Isle of Wight County Schools, which saw a four-percent increase from last year to 93 percent.