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County student graduation rate down in 2012

The percent of students graduating on time in Halifax County Public Schools dropped to 85.9 percent, down 3.1 percent from last year’s 89 percent, according to a Virginia Department of Education report released Tuesday.

The county rate was 2.1 percent short of the state average of 88 percent. Virginia’s on time high school graduation rate rose 1.4 percent over last year’s rate of 86.6 percent, and the statewide dropout rate fell over a point to 6.5 percent, according to data reported by the Virginia Department of Education. 

The statewide dropout rate fell to 6.5 percent for the class of 2012, compared with 7.2 percent for the class of 2011. During the last five years, the statewide dropout rate has fallen by more than 25 percent. 

The report included Halifax County’s dropout rate that is 8.6 percent with 38 dropouts. The report also showed that females on-time graduation rate is higher than males at 87.9 percent and males at 84 percent.

“We are pleased that our students continue to meet annual measurable objectives in the area of on-time graduation,” said Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon.

A total of 88 percent of students who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2008 earned a diploma within four years, and of those, more than 55 percent earned an Advanced Studies Diploma, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported Tuesday. 

 “More students graduating on time from Virginia’s schools means we have more young people who are college- or career-ready,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “This is good news for all Virginians. While we continue to move in the right direction, our job will not be done until students in every school and every zip code have the opportunity to learn and graduate from high school prepared to succeed at the next level.” 

“The statewide improvements we celebrate today are the result of hundreds of individual success stories involving teachers, administrators and other educators who provided struggling and sometimes troubled students with the instruction, support and encouragement they needed to persevere and complete their diploma requirements,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said.  

Modified Standard Diplomas and Special Diplomas are available only to students with disabilities. 

State and local efforts to increase graduation rates and reduce dropout rates among minority students continued to show results:

The graduation rate for black students increased 2.4 points to 82.7 percent, while the dropout rate fell from 10.9 percent, to 9.3 percent.

In Halifax County the on-time graduation rate for whites was 89.2, for blacks was 82.6 percent and 81.8 percent for Hispanics.

Statewide, the graduation rate for Hispanic students increased 1.8 points to 80.9 percent, while the dropout rate declined from 14.9 percent to 13.6 percent.

Since 2008, the on-time graduation for black students statewide has risen 8.8 points and the rate for Hispanic students has risen by 9.4 points.

“We are seeing better outcomes for more young Virginians because schools are able to identify at-risk students earlier and get them the help they need to succeed,” Board of Education President David M. Foster said. 

Since 2011, high schools have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion to earn full accreditation under Virginia’s Standards of Learning accountability program. Schools receive full credit for students who earn diplomas and partial credit for students who remain enrolled, earn GEDs or otherwise complete high school. 

On-time graduation has increased by 5.9 points, or 7.2 percent, since 2008, the first year VDOE reported graduation rates for the state, school divisions and high schools based on student-level data that fully account for student mobility, promotion and retention.

Of Virginia’s 323 high schools and schools with graduating classes, 181 achieved graduation rates higher than the state rate of 88 percent, and 142 were lower. 

A total of 62 school divisions had graduation rates higher than the state’s, and 69 divisions had graduation rates that were lower. 

The dropout rates of 195 schools were lower than the statewide rate, one school equaled the state rate, and the dropout rates of 127 schools exceeded the state rate. 

A total of 68 school divisions had dropout rates lower than the state, one division equaled the state rate, and 62 divisions had dropout rates that were higher than the statewide rate. 

Virginia Department of Education also released new data for the class of 2011 showing that 1,125 students returned for a fifth year of high school and earned diplomas. Their achievement resulted in a five-year graduation rate for the class of 2011 of 87.9 percent compared with a four-year rate of 86.6 percent.