The Virginia Department of Education today released state-level, division-level and school-level reports that detail outcomes for students who entered the ninth-grade for the first time in 2004 and were scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2008. The reports complement the Virginia On-Time Graduation Rate reports published last October with data on dropouts, students still in school, students on long-term leave and students in the cohort whose records were properly reported to the state but whose status is unconfirmed.
“The publication of these cohort reports represents a milestone in the commonwealth’s effort to account for every student,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright said. “This is vital information that will shape efforts at the state and local levels to keep students in school and on track toward earning a diploma.”
Virginia’s on-time graduation rate is 82.2 percent and Alexandria’s is 76.4 percent. The state drop-out rate is 8.7 percent and Alexandria’s is 11.1 percent.
“We need to focus on keeping every student in school and helping them graduate successfully,” said Alexandria City Councilman Rob Krupicka, who is also a member of the Virginia Satate Board of Education. “This will take the collaboration of the city and our schools. The schools can’t do it alone. The new state standards for graduation adopted by the Board of Education make Virginia a national leader. I believe Alexandria can be and should be a leader in Virginia and in the nation.”
Of the 96,152 students in the group who entered the ninthgrade for the first time in 2004 and were expected to graduate in 2008, 8,347, or 8.7 percent, dropped out; 0.4 percent were reported as being on long-term medical or family leave or expelled for one year with the potential of returning to school; and the status of two percent could not be determined with current state data. A student whose status is unconfirmed is not counted as a dropout until it is established that he or she is not enrolled in another public or private school or receiving home instruction.
The data show that students in the cohort who repeated grades, attended multiple schools and who were frequently absent were more likely to drop out: 58.8 percent of the students in the cohort who dropped out repeated at least one grade during high school and 37.4 percent repeated their freshman year.
- 42.2 percent of the students who dropped out were ninth and tenth graders aged 17-years old or older.
- 30.5 percent of the dropouts attended two or more high schools before ending their high school careers compared with 14.6 percent of the students in the cohort who graduated.
- 29.4 percent of the dropouts had attendance rates of less than 80 percent during the year before they exited school, compared with 2.1 percent of the students in the cohort who graduated.
- 65.2 percent of dropouts had attendance rates of less than 80 percent during their final year of school compared with 3.8 percent of graduates.
Fifty-five percent of the dropouts left school before the eleventh grade; 26.9 percent dropped out during the ninth grade; 28 percent dropped out during their sophomore year; 24.4 percent dropped out during the eleventh grade; and 20.7 percent dropped out as seniors.
High school cohort reports for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth are available for viewing and downloading in the Virginia School Report Card section of the VDOE Web site (http://www.doe.virginia.gov/VDOE/src/ontime_grad_rate.shtml).
Of Virginia’s 313 non-alternative high schools, 178 had dropout rates below the state rate of 8.7 percent, 134 had dropout rates that exceeded the state rate and one school’s dropout rate was the same as the state rate. Ninety-four high schools had dropout rates of five percent or less and 34 schools had dropout rates of 15 percent or higher. Eight schools reported no dropouts.
Last month, the Board of Education revised the commonwealth’s accreditation standards to require high schools to meet an annual benchmark for graduation. The new accountability requirement will be phased in, beginning with accreditation ratings for the 2011-2012 school year. The board also voted to require schools to develop an Academic and Career Plan for every middle and high school student, beginning with students entering the seventh grade during the 2010-2011 school year.
In addition to these Board of Education policy initiatives, VDOE is focusing technical assistance to schools and school divisions on dropout prevention and related issues.
Hundreds of educators, administrators and community leaders from across the commonwealth attended the October 28, 2008, Virginia Statewide Dropout Prevention Summit in Richmond. The summit, which was sponsored by VDOE, included presentations from leading authorities on dropout prevention and educators who have pioneered successful interventions to keep potential dropouts in school.
VDOE is assisting school divisions this spring as they plan regional conferences to identify region-specific issues and strategies. In July, a VDOE-sponsored institute for Title I schools will focus on the practical aspects of implementing policies and practices “” beginning in preschool and the elementary grades “” to identify at-risk students and provide the support they need to experience success and complete school.
Using each student’s state testing identifier, the records of students who entered the ninth grade for the first time in 2004 were linked to their records over the past four years to determine their status and calculate cohort graduation, completion and dropout rates for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth.
“Virginia educators and data administrators have spent countless hours tracking down former students and documenting their current status,” said Dr. Wright. “This has been a particular challenge in divisions with highly mobile populations, including students who divide their time between Virginia and other countries and sometimes leave the state without notifying school officials of their plans.”