Virginia’s on-time graduation rate improved by half a percentage point in the 2017-18 school year, according to Virginia Department of Education data released today. Of the students who entered high school as first-time ninth graders in 2014:
- 50,979 (52%) earned an Advanced Studies Diploma (including International Baccalaureate).
- 36,013 (36.8%) earned a Standard Diploma.
- 2,733 (2.8%) earned an Applied Studies or Modified Standard Diploma
- 1,046 (1.1%) earned a GED.
- 5,404 (5.5%) dropped out.
Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane credits the “hard work and dedication” of teachers, principals, support staff and others who “refused to give up on students who might otherwise have dropped out.” The improvement also reflects “the responsiveness of school divisions to the state Board of Education’s focus on reducing absenteeism and dropout rates.”
Bacon’s bottom line: Hopefully, the improvement in the on-time graduation rate reflects real improvements, not a statistical mirage. But VDOE data is only as good as the data submitted by the school districts, and data submitted by the school districts is only as good as the data submitted by high school principals, and data submitted by high school principals is not always reliable, as we have seen.
The increase in the on-time graduation rate coincides with continued high rates of chronic absenteeism. Maybe we are witnessing the fruits of anti-truancy programs that rope school-skippers back into the classroom and the transformation effects of the new restorative discipline programs implemented in many school systems. Or maybe not. Surely there is a way to stress test the VDOE on-time graduation data to see how robust the improvement is.
Update: John Butcher subjects the graduation rate numbers to closer scrutiny in Cranky’s Blog. There are lots of ways to play with the data.There are currently no comments highlighted.