Three localities post gains, three post losses in percentage of students who graduate in four years

CHESTERFIELD – High schools in the Tri-Cities area posted mixed results in graduating their students in four years in the latest period, with half of the local school divisions posting increases and half decreases in their on-time graduation rates.

Figures released by the Virginia Department of Education on Wednesday showed that Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie County and Prince George County all saw increases in 2017 in the percentage of students who graduated in four years, while Chesterfield County, Hopewell and Petersburg saw decreases.

Colonial Heights’ rate of 96 percent was the highest in the region and ranked 10th-highest among Virginia’s 131 school divisions. At the other end of the scale, Petersburg’s rate of 80.4 percent ranked as No. 126 in the state, or sixth-lowest.

According to the Department of Education, since 2011 high schools have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion to earn full accreditation under Virginia’s Standards of Learning 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.

“The long-term trend is far more important than a temporary plateau or a year-to-year fluctuation,” said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “And when you look at the long-term trend for Virginia, you see a 10-point improvement in the graduation rate since 2008 as a result of a system-wide focus on keeping students in school and improving outcomes.”

Chesterfield County, the only locality in the Tri-Cities that operates more than one high school, posted an overall on-time graduation rate of 90.2 percent, down 0.7 percentage points from 2016, and ranked 83rd-highest among the state’s 131 school divisions. Of the county’s 10 regular high schools, three posted increases, one was unchanged and six saw declines:

• Matoaca – 92.8 percent, up 2.1 percentage points. Statewide rank: 160.

• Cosby – 98.2 percent, up 0.5. Rank: 19.

• Clover Hill – 95.1 percent, up 0.5. Rank: 94.

• Thomas Dale – 93.5 percent, unchanged. Rank: 132.

• Monacan – 92.5 percent, down 0.1. Rank: 166.

• Midlothian – 98.2 percent, down 0.7. Rank: 19.

• James River – 88.6 percent, down 0.9. Rank: 234.