Nearly 92 percent of all Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) seniors graduated on time this year with nearly two out of three graduates earning the state’s highest diploma for academic excellence.
According to the state Department of Education, the school division had 1,076 graduates, with 672 receiving an Advanced Studies Diploma. These diplomas require 26 course credits with nine verified credits (earned by passing an end-of-course Standards of Learning test), while a standard diploma requires 22 credits and six verified credits.
Nearly 63 percent of our graduating seniors received an Advanced Studies Diploma, compared to almost 52 percent of graduating seniors in Virginia.
The highest on-time graduation percentage was at Western Albemarle High School, at 99 percent. The percentage for the division’s charter school graduates was 95. At Monticello High School, 89.3 percent of all seniors graduated within four years of entering high school, and Albemarle High School’s on-time graduation percentage was 88.9.
Statewide, the on-time graduation rate of 92.3 was slightly ahead of the county’s 91.8 percent. Nationally, the high school graduation rate was 85 percent, the highest it has been since the rate first was measured in 2011. The state has tracked and published on-time high school graduation rates since 2008, and the rate for ACPS graduates has been 90 percent or higher ever since.
Of the students who entered high school in the ninth grade in the county, 4.6 dropped out of school, which was lower than the statewide average of 5.1 percent.
Among individual student groups, Black students in the county graduated at an on-time rate of 93.5 percent, outperforming the statewide average for all students. The dropout rate for Black students in the county was less than one percent, compared to five percent across the state.
In the county’s four high schools, the on-time graduation rate was 91.8 percent for students of multiple races; 89.6 percent for special education students; 86.5 percent for students from economically disadvantaged homes; 76 percent for Hispanic students; and for English Learners, the on-time graduation rate was 62.7 percent.
“We are most successful when we work with each student, one at a time, to assist them and wrap around them as a team to complete their high school education,” said the division’s Deputy Superintendent, Debora Collins. “Recognizing the importance of this milestone in their life, we will continue to prioritize our full support of students in reaching their highest potential as learners, workers and citizens,” she said, referencing the division’s strategic goal.
This includes, she said, expanding the broad array of choices for students to direct their own learning, choices that allow them to align course selections with their passions and career interests as they progress through their academic careers.
Noting the lower on-time graduation percentages for some student groups, she said improvements clearly are achievable, pointing to a recent national award that the division’s Baker-Butler Elementary School received for closing achievement gaps.
“The strong performances of our students, as indicated this year by SAT scores, our graduation rate again above 90 percent, the rigor our high school students have mastered—all are a tribute to the dedication and skill of students, families, and our educators, even more so this year given the impact of the pandemic. These success stories need to be more broadly shared across our entire student population, and that certainly will be our focus this year,” she added.
One improvement area that Collins said must be the goal of all schools is the more powerful application of individualized learning strategies and programs, such as culturally responsive teaching, the implementation of the division’s anti-racism policy, and even the leveraging of the current virtual instruction model to increase the range of more innovative, project-based, and independent learning opportunities for students.
The division’s high school students also turned in a strong performance last month as reported by the College Board. The College Board said ACPS high school students achieved a combined mean test score of 1190 on the Board’s reading/writing and math SAT, 80 points higher than the score for all seniors in Virginia and 139 points ahead of national scores.
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer