Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced Thursday that more than nine out of 10 students who entered the ninth grade during the 2017-2018 school year earned a diploma and graduated from high school within four years.
Of the 97,155 students in the class of 2021, 93% earned a board of education-approved diploma, compared with 92.3% of the 2020 cohort. The dropout rate for the class of 2021 was 4.3%, compared with 5.1% for the previous graduating class.
“In addition to congratulating our 2021 graduates for their perseverance under extraordinary and challenging circumstances, I want to thank the state board of education for the emergency guidance it approved last fall that allowed for greater flexibility in the awarding of verified credits toward graduation,” Lane said.
“The board’s action — and the emergency waivers I issued last year — ensured that students were not prevented from graduating by pandemic-related factors beyond their control.”
Of the students who entered high school as first-time ninth graders in 2017 52.8% earned an advanced studies diploma (including international baccalaureate), 38% earned a standard diploma, 2.1% earned an applied studies or modified standard diploma, 0.7% earned a GED, and 4.3% 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 the various demographic groups are as follows:98.5% of Asian students graduated, 0.9% dropped out; 90.8% of Black students graduated, 4.8% dropped out; 89.2% of economically disadvantaged students graduated, 6% dropped out; 77.2% of English learners graduated, 21.2% dropped out; 85.1% of Hispanic students graduated, 12.2% dropped out; 90.7% of students with disabilities graduated, 7.3% dropped out; 95.1% of students of multiple races graduated, 2.3% dropped out; 95.3% of white students graduated, 2.3% 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.