More students in Charlottesville City Schools are graduating on-time compared with the statewide average and other local divisions, according to Virginia Department of Education data released Tuesday.
The division’s on-time graduation rate — 95.7% — beat the state by 4.2 percentage points and Albemarle County by 1.3 points. In the county, 94.4% of students who started high school in 2015 graduated in four years, a two-point increase from last year, and 4.1% dropped out. Western Albemarle High School led area schools with a 98.2% graduation rate.
“We are so proud of our students and staff,” Charlottesville schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins said in a statement. “This is no small accomplishment. It really demonstrates the value of creating systems of supports in our schools so that we are meeting students’ individual needs so that they can succeed.”
Statewide and locally, disparities in graduation rates among some student groups and the types of degrees they earned continued this year. About half of Virginia graduates earned an advanced studies diploma, which has more rigorous course requirements. The other option is a standard diploma. Students with disabilities also can earn an applied studies or modified standard diploma.
Statewide, 35% of black and Hispanic students earned the advanced studies diploma, as did 31% of students considered economically disadvantaged.
The state’s overall on-time graduation rate dropped slightly from 91.6% last year, and the dropout rate for the Class of 2019 was 5.6%.
“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,” James Lane, the state superintendent of public instruction, said in a statement. “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.”
Across Central Virginia, graduation rates dropped in six divisions — Buckingham, Greene, Fluvanna, Louisa, Nelson and Madison counties. Orange County’s rate increased by slightly.
Class of 2019 Graduation Rates
|Area Schools||% of Advanced Studies Diplomas||% of Standard Diplomas||2019 On-Time Grad Rate||Dropout Rate|
|Albemarle County Division||64.0%||27.9%||94.4||4.1|
|Western Albemarle High||74.4%||21.2%||98.2||0.7|
|Buckingham County High||43.0%||46.1%||93.0||4.7|
|William Monroe High||53.1%||38.4%||92.0||3.1|
|Fluvanna County High||45.3%||44.9%||93.4||1.8|
|Louisa County High||51.4%||36.0%||91.4||2.3|
|Nelson County High||39.9%||45.4%||89.6||3.7|
|Madison County High||57.0%||34.4%||93.0||3.1|
|Orange County High||47.3%||44.9%||93.8||3.8|
The on-time rate in Charlottesville improved by three percentage points compared to the Class of 2018, continuing the division’s trend of rising graduation rates. The School Board and division leaders have focused on graduating more students for several years.
In 2008, 74.6% of students graduated on time and 13.2% of students dropped out, according to division data. This year, 1.8% of Charlottesville High School students dropped out.
The division also closed the gap in graduation rates among different student groups. Nearly 96% of black students in Charlottesville graduated on time in 2019, compared with 88.3% in 2018 and 84.8% in 2017. In the last 10 years, the graduation rate for black students has improved nearly 30 percentage points when 66.4% of students graduated in 2008. The dropout rate also decreased from 15.4% in 2008 to 1.02% this past spring.
Students from other groups saw gains this year, as well. More than 90% of students in groups except English learners and homeless students graduated.
Charlottesville Class of 2019 Graduation Rates
|CHS Student Groups||% of Advanced Studies Dipomas||% of Standard Diplomas||2019 grad rate||2019 Dropout Rate||2018 on-time grad rate||2019 Dropout Rate|
|Students with Disabilities||--||53%||95.3||2.3||86.7||13.3|
|Two or more races||--||92.9||7.1||--||--|
Half of Charlottesville High School graduates earned the advanced studies diploma, compared with 25.5% of black students, 39% of Hispanic students and 27% of students from low-income families.
CHS principal Eric Irizarry said the Class of 2019’s rate is “something to celebrate.”
“And even as we celebrate, we set new goals,” he said in a statement. “As we continue to emphasize increased rigor and high expectations, we will expect to see more students pursuing the advanced diploma. But regardless of the type of diploma our students have earned, we celebrate this accomplishment and the good work our teachers, counselors and staff are doing.”
In Albemarle County, graduation rates have fluctuated in recent years, but they have been above 90% for the last 10 years and consistently higher than the state. In 2018, 92.7% of students graduated on time and 94.7% did so in 2017.
The division also has seen overall improvement since 2008, when 87.9% of students graduated on time and 6.3% of students dropped out.
In the county, 64% of students graduated with the advanced studies diploma; however, only 32% of black students, 39% of Hispanic students and 33.5% of students from low-income families earned that diploma.
Albemarle County Class of 2019 Graduation Rates
|ACPS Student Groups||% of Advanced Studies Dipomas||% of Standard Diplomas||2019 grad rate||2019 Dropout Rate||2018 on-time grad rate||2019 Dropout Rate|
|Two or more races||70.21%||26%||97.9||2.1||89.8||6.8|
|Students with Disabilities||15.38%||55%||90.8||7.7||90.4||9.6|
Debbie Collins, deputy superintendent for Albemarle County, said the division is working to get more students to take Algebra I by eighth grade as a way to help more of them receive an advanced studies diploma.
Taking that math course earlier gives students flexibility in their high school schedules to take other courses that count toward that diploma type, she said.
Western Albemarle had the highest graduation rate in the division, a position it has held over recent years. Albemarle High School had the lowest rate of the division’s three comprehensive high schools, at 92.7%. Murray High School, a charter school, graduated 84.8% of the freshmen who started there in 2015.
At Monticello, 94.6% of those students graduated. The school also saw a significant jump in the percentage of black students who graduated on time, going from 86.5% to 97.1%.
Albemarle high schools Class of 2019 graduation rates
|Grad Rate||Albemarle HS||Monticello HS||Western Albemarle HS||Murray HS|
|Students with Disabilities||86.5||95.1||92.9||<|
|Two or more races||95.8||100||100||<|
Collins said school staff members at Monticello have made a point to sit down with each student and map out their high school experience. Then, they continue to check with students and build relationships.
Additionally, principal Rick Vrhovac has implemented the professional learning community model that division leaders are encouraging more schools to adapt. In that model, schools set standards as a staff that each student is expected to learn, assess students, share and discuss the test results with students, set goals and then work with children individually to attain those goals.
Collins added that Monticello takes notice of which classes students are being placed in and encourages students to enroll in higher level math courses, depending on how they do on standardized tests, such as the PSAT. About 51% of black students in Monticello’s graduating class this year earned advanced studies diplomas.
“They’re setting high expectations for students,” Collins said.
Still, gaps remain for other student groups. Division-wide, 80% of Hispanic students graduated on time, which is up from 76% in 2018.
Collins said the division’s goal is to graduate 100% of its students, and she wants to delve deeper into the students who dropped out or didn’t finish on time.
“So we want to figure that out and get everyone across the stage,” she said.
Albemarle County Class of 2019 drop-out rates
|Drop out Rate||Albemarle HS||Monticello HS||Western Albemarle HS||Murray HS|
|Students with Disabilities||13.5||2.4||3.6||<|
|Two or more races||4.2||0||0||<|