RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday, Sept. 29, that over nine out of ten students who entered the ninth grade in 2012 earned a diploma within four years, and more than half graduated from high school with the Commonwealth’s most rigorous diploma, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported today. Of the 95,130 students in the class of 2016, 91.3 percent earned a Board of Education-approved diploma, compared with 90.5 percent of the 2015 cohort.
“The success demonstrated by our students is a testament to the resolve of teachers, administrators, parents, and community leaders across the Commonwealth to ensure that every individual gets the best possible education,”said Governor McAuliffe. “We have the best schools and the best teachers in Virginia and the increased graduation rate highlights our educators’ and students’ dedication and hard work across the Commonwealth. Our schools are the foundation of the new Virginia Economy and it is essential that we continue to build on this achievement as we educate the workforce of the 21st century.”
“Virginia’s improved graduation rate shows the dedication of our education community to create a learning environment that inspires students to work hard, stay engage, and ultimately achieve their goals,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “I want to congratulate our students, parents, faculty and staff for their hard work in reaching this important milestone.”
“An improving graduation rate is evidence of system-wide success in improving outcomes and providing support and guidance throughout students’ K-12 careers,” stated Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples. “Educators at every level can take pride in this success, especially given the commonwealth’s high expectations for learning.”
Of the students who entered high school as first-time ninth graders in 2012:
- 49,173, or 51.7 percent, earned an Advanced Studies Diploma (including International Baccalaureate)
- 34,242, or 36 percent, earned a Standard Diploma.
- 1,325, or 1.4 percent, earned a Modified Standard Diploma.
- 2,138, or 2.2 percent, earned a Special Diploma.
- 934, or 1 percent, earned a GED.
- 5,028 or 5.3 percent, dropped out.
Students who earn GED certificates or complete high school without earning a diploma are not included as graduates in calculating graduation rates. Special Diplomas are available only to students with severe cognitive disabilities. The Modified Standard Diploma, which is also limited to students with disabilities, is being phased out.
State and local efforts to increase graduation rates among minority students continued to show results:
- The graduation rate for black students increased 2.1 points to 88.3 percent, while the dropout rate fell by three-tenths of a point, to 6.3 percent.
- The graduation rate for Hispanic students fell 1.2 points to 82.8 percent, while the dropout rate increased 1.9 points, to 13.7 percent.
- The graduation rate for students with disabilities fell six-tenths of a point to 87.8 percent and the dropout rate rose nine-tenths of a point, to 9.7 percent.
The dropout rate for the class of 2016 was 5.3 percent, compared with 5.2 percent for the previous cohort. Of Virginia’s 323 high schools with reportable graduation rates, 187 achieved graduation rates equal to or higher than the state rate of 91.3 percent. The dropout rates of 200 high schools were equal to or lower than the statewide rate of 5.3 percent.
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 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.
Five-Year Class of 2015 Graduates
VDOE also released new data for the class of 2015 showing that 1,009 students earned diplomas after returning for a fifth year of high school. Their achievement resulted in a Class of 2014 five-year graduation rate of 91.7 percent compared with a four-year rate of 90.5 percent.
High school cohort reports for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth are available for viewing and downloading on the VDOE website here.