PETERSBURG - The number of students in the class of 2012 that graduated after four years in high school increased significantly across the Tri-Cities, according to a state report. Also, the number of students that dropped out of high school dropped significantly in the region.
The average on-time graduation rate among students in the Tri-Cities for 2012 was 84.56 percent, compared to 79.62 percent in 2011, an increase of 6.2 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Education. The on-time graduation rate in the Tri-Cities in 2010 was 80.3 percent.
The on-time graduation rate for public high school students who were first-time ninth-graders in 2008 rose more than a percentage point from the previous year's class, the Virginia Department of Education said. In the Tri-Cities, the improvement in the on-time graduation rate was nearly 5 percentage points.
The statewide average for on-time graduation for students in the class of 2012 was 88 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Education. On-time graduation in Virginia has increased more than 7 percent since the agency first reported rates in 2008.
"More students graduating on time from Virginia's schools means we have more young people who are college or career ready," Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement. "This is good news for all Virginians. While we continue to move in the right direction, our job will not be done until students in every school and every zip code have the opportunity to learn and graduate from high school prepared to succeed at the next level."
The statewide dropout rate fell to 6.5 percent for the class of 2012, compared with 7.2 percent for the class of 2011. During the past five years, the statewide dropout rate has fallen by more than 25 percent.
In the Tri-Cities, the average dropout rate was 8.5 percent for the class of 2012, compared with 13 percent for the class of 2011. The dropout rate in the region decreased by 34.5 percent this year compared to 2011.
Each of the six school districts in the Tri-Cities saw an improvement in the number of students in the class of 2012 that graduated after four years of high school. The 2012 on-time graduation rates were:
- Chesterfield: 89.5 percent, compared to 86.7 percent in 2011.
- Colonial Heights: 89.4 percent, compared to 85 percent in 2011.
- Dinwiddie: 82.3 percent, compared to 77.8 percent in 2011.
- Hopewell: 85.6 percent, compared to 77.8 percent in 2011.
- Petersburg: 77.5 percent, compared to 68.4 percent in 2011.
- Prince George: 83.2 percent, compared to 82.1 percent in 2011.
Hopewell has showed marked improvement every year since 2008, the earliest records available, when its on-time graduation rate was 59.6 percent.
Last year, some school districts in the region - Colonial Heights, Petersburg and Chesterfield County - saw a decrease in on-time graduation rates compared to 2010. However, all three school districts saw improvements in the 2012 on-time graduation rate.
The dropout rate declined in five out of the six area school districts. In Petersburg, the dropout rate plummeted from 26 percent in 2011 to 14.8 percent in 2012. However, Petersburg's dropout rate was the highest in the region and well above the state average.
The 2012 dropout rates were:
Chesterfield: 6.1 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in 2011.
Colonial Heights: 5 percent , compared to 6.3 percent in 2011.
Dinwiddie: 6.9 percent, compared to 12.3 percent in 2011.
Hopewell: 7.7 percent, compared to 14.4 percent in 2011.
Prince George: 10.5 percent, compared to 10.2 percent in 2011.
"The statewide improvements we celebrate today are the result of hundreds of individual success stories involving teachers, administrators and other educators who provided struggling and sometimes troubled students with the instruction, support and encouragement they needed to persevere and complete their diploma requirements," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia I. Wright.
High schools have had to meet annual graduation and completion benchmarks to earn full state accreditation since the 2010-11 academic year under Virginia's Standards of Learning accountability program. Schools receive full credit for students who earn diplomas and partial credit for students who remain enrolled, earn GEDs or otherwise complete high school.