Graduation rates rise at two of three high schools

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Two of the city’s three high schools saw their on-time graduation rates increase from a year ago, according to data released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

At King’s Fork, the on-time graduation rate went from 84.1 percent in 2018 to 90.6 percent in 2019, while at Nansemond River, it went from 91.3 percent last year to 95.5 percent this year.

Lakeland’s on-time graduation rate, meanwhile, declined from 84.9 percent to 84.4 percent. Overall, Suffolk’s on-time graduation rate was 90.3 percent, which is below the state average.

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“Our high school teachers, administrators, guidance counselors and graduation coaches have worked hard to support students,” Interim Superintendent Dr. LaToya Harrison wrote in a statement. “We are very proud of the progress they have made in helping students graduate on time, and our efforts will continue to improve on-time graduation rates for all future graduating classes.”

Across the state, 91.5 percent of students who began ninth grade in 2015 earned a diploma within four years, with the dropout rate making a slight increase from 5.5 to 5.6 percent.

“Virginia’s on-time graduation rate has risen by more than 10 points in the decade since the department began reporting graduation rates that account for every student who enters the ninth grade,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said in a news release. “I believe this long-term, upward trend will continue as school divisions and the commonwealth adopt equitable policies and practices that provide instructional and support services tailored to the unique needs of every learner.”

All three Suffolk high schools saw their dropout rates decline in the last year — King’s Fork went from 9.6 percent to 5.5 percent, Lakeland dropped from 7.8 percent to 5.6 percent and Nansemond River went from 3.6 percent to 0.8 percent.

The majority of Suffolk students graduating in 2019, 50.1 percent, received a standard diploma, while 38 percent received an advanced studies diploma. Statewide, 51.5 percent of students earned an advanced studies diploma, versus 37.2 percent earning a standard diploma.

High schools have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion since 2011 to earn state accreditation. Schools receive full credit for students who earn diplomas, and partial credit for students who remain enrolled, earn general equivalency diplomas or otherwise complete high school, according to the state department of education.