DATE: October 9, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
On-Time Graduation Rate for Albemarle County Public Schools Seniors Reaches 94.4 Percent, Exceeding State & National Averages
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – For the 12th consecutive year, the on-time graduation rate for seniors in Albemarle County Public Schools has exceeded the Virginia statewide rate. The state Department of Education reported this week that 94.4 percent of seniors in the division’s four high schools graduated on time in the 2018-19 school year, an increase from the prior year’s rate of 93.4 percent. Statewide, 91.5 percent of high school seniors graduated on time (within four years of entering high school). The national graduation rate is 85 percent.
Locally, Albemarle County seniors outperformed their peers across Virginia on two other academic performance measures. Nearly two out of three graduates earned the state’s Advanced Studies Diploma, signifying the student met Virginia’s most rigorous academic requirements for graduation. This compared to a statewide rate of 51.5 percent. The school division’s dropout rate of 4.1 percent was lower than the statewide rate of 5.6 percent.
“For our teachers, administrators, and support staff, this report in many respects is our final exam. Our one strategic goal is to prepare graduates for lifetime success. On all three measures—on-time graduation, advanced studies diplomas, and dropout rate—our strong numbers indicate that students are entering the next phase of their life well-positioned for high achievement as learners, workers and citizens,” said Debora Collins, the school division’s deputy superintendent.
On-time graduation rates in the county for specific student demographic groups, including Black and Hispanic students, students with disabilities, students from economically disadvantaged homes, students for whom English is a second language, Asian students, and students of two or more races, all surpassed statewide rates, but in some cases were well below the overall division rate.
“Even though, year-over-year, we saw some improvements in these numbers, they need to be higher,” Collins said. “That’s why closing the opportunity gap is such a high priority moving forward,” she added.
Several new programs this year focus on expanding learning opportunities and enhancing learning environments for all students, she said. Collins pointed to the required Freshman Seminar class, now in its second year, which assists students with their social, emotional and academic development and provides counseling to match students’ career interests and academic strengths with their course selections.
The division is expanding its project-based learning center for seniors, adding college credit classes this year. Beginning next year, sophomores and juniors will be able to attend the center as well.
The division’s culturally responsive teaching program also is broadening, with a division-wide focus on more closely matching instructional practices with individualized student learning styles.
A new pilot program this year is reducing out-of-school suspensions at the middle school level and could become permanent and extend to high school students next year.
Also this year, the division is focusing on bringing together principals, teachers, and instructional coaches at the elementary, middle, and high school levels in professional learning communities (PLCs). Through these division-level PLCs, educators will share best instructional strategies and practices, especially focusing on those that have proven to increase Standards of Learning test scores among student demographic groups.
And, Collins said, the division is looking at options that could bring high-speed internet services later this year into student homes across the county that are not able to access such services at the current time.
This week’s on-time graduation report follows last month’s release of SAT test results and college readiness scores by the College Board. The scores for county students were higher than state and national averages. On the College Board’s college readiness benchmark, which correlates with success in credit-bearing college work, the percentage of seniors in the county who reached the benchmark was 89, compared to 54 percent across the state and 45 percent across the country.