CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - More students in the Charlottesville-Albemarle County area are graduating on time despite statewide numbers going down.

Both school systems' graduation rates improved in the last couple of years. Charlottesville's jumped up about 3% and is well above the state average.

Now, city school officials are looking at ways to improve accessibility and curriculum for students of color.

“I think it's attributed to a lot of things, the constant conversation around the data and more importantly than that data are actual kids, individual students and really focusing on those individual students and forming that partnership with the family and the school and the student,” said Jay Thomas, director of secondary education for ACPS.

“What we're seeing now is some of the interventions we put in place, their 9th grade, their 10th-grade years and we really wanted to see what are their obstacles to them accessing instructions, what are their obstacles to accessing the school,” said Charlottesville High School Principal Eric Irizarry.

The principal attributes the improved graduation rates to intervention programs at the school for students in ninth and tenth grades.

10/08/2019 Release from Charlottesville City Schools:

Charlottesville High School’s on-time graduation rate rose again to 95.7 percent, continuing a rising trend that exceeds the state rate, yields one of the highest rates among Virginia cities, and sets a new school standard.

“We are so proud of our students and staff,” notes Superintendent Dr. Rosa Atkins. “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.”

The school’s rate surpasses the state’s average of 91.5 percent and tops the state’s averages in most groups, including for black students. Charlottesville’s black students’ rate is 95.9, higher than the school’s overall graduation rate and exceeding the state’s average for black students (89.7) by 6.2 points.

Similarly, the division’s five-year graduation completion index rose to 96.4, which also is among the highest in the state.

The school’s drop-out rate fell to 1.8 percent, compared to the state average of 5.6 percent. Charlottesville’s black students’ drop-out rate fell to 1 percent.

The school’s percentage of students earning advanced diplomas was just below state averages overall (49.8 vs 51.5), and in certain groups, this difference was greater, For instance, the rate of attaining an advanced diploma for black students was 25.5 at CHS vs 35.5 across the state.

“A 96 percent graduation rate is something to celebrate,” adds CHS Principal Eric Irizarry. “And even as we celebrate, we set new goals. 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.”

10/08/2019 Release from the Virginia Department of Education:

RICHMOND — More than nine out of ten students who entered the ninth grade in 2015 earned a diploma within four years, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) reported today. More than half - 51.5% - of the students in the class or 2019 graduated with an advanced diploma.

Of the 98,413 students in the class of 2019, 91.5% earned a Board of Education-approved diploma, compared with 91.6% of the 2018 cohort. The dropout rate for the class of 2019 was 5.6%, compared with 5.5% for the previous graduating class.

“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,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said. “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.”

Of the students who entered high school as first-time ninth graders in 2015:

  • 50,715 (51.5%) earned an Advanced Studies Diploma (including International Baccalaureate).
  • 36,614 (37.2%) earned a Standard Diploma.
  • 2,715 (2.8%) earned an Applied Studies or Modified Standard Diploma.
  • 1,064 (1.1%) earned a GED.
  • 5,504 (5.6%) dropped out.

Applied Studies and Modified Standard Diplomas are available only to students with disabilities. Students who earn high school equivalency certificates - such as a GED - or complete high school without earning a diploma are not included as graduates in calculating graduation rates.

The graduation rates and dropout rates for major student racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups are as follows:

  • 97.5% of Asian students graduated and 1.7% dropped out.
  • 89.7% of black students graduated and 6.2% dropped out.
  • 87.2% of economically disadvantaged students graduated and 8.2% dropped out.
  • 71.1% of English learners graduated and 25.8% dropped out.
  • 80.1% of Hispanic students graduated and 16.5% dropped out.
  • 88.6% of students with disabilities graduated and 9.1% dropped out.
  • 94% of students of two or more races graduated and 3% dropped out.
  • 94.7% of white students graduated and 2.9% dropped out.

Since 2011, high schools have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion to earn state accreditation. Schools receive full credit for students who earn diplomas and partial credit for students who remain enrolled, earn GEDs or otherwise complete high school. In addition, revisions to the accreditation standards adopted by the state Board of Education in 2017 include benchmarks for reducing dropout rates and chronic absenteeism.

High school cohort reports for schools, school divisions and the commonwealth are available for viewing and downloading on the VDOE website and on School Quality Profile reports under the “College and Career Readiness” tab.