HARRISONBURG — Harrisonburg High School’s Class of 2019 fell just short of the state average for on-time graduation, according to the Virginia Department of Education.
Statewide, more than nine out of 10 students who entered the ninth grade in 2015 earned a diploma within four years, the VDOE reported Tuesday. 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.
For Harrisonburg, 88.6% of students who entered the high school in 2015 graduated this past spring.
On-time graduation rates are broken down into sub-groups, and it was the English language learners who had the lowest graduation rate of 73.7%. There are more than 60 different languages spoken in Harrisonburg City Public Schools.
Pat Lintner, chief academic officer for the division, has said that dropout rates need to be examined further.
Identifying what prompts a student to drop out is a key to fixing the problem, Lintner said. These are not students who went to school for 11 years and then out of the blue decide to stop going.
There are students at the high school going to school and holding down full-time jobs, which is a difficult thing to do, Lintner said.
Rockingham County Public Schools had an above average on-time graduation rate of 94.3%. English language learners were the sub-group that Rockingham County struggled with the most, as well, with 80.4% of students graduating on-time.
Page County Public Schools had an on-time graduation rate of 96.8% and Shenandoah County Public Schools graduated 95.2% students on time.
Across the state, of the students who entered high school as first-time ninth-graders in 2015:
• 50,715 (51.5%) earned an advanced studies diploma
• 36,614 (37.2%) earned a standard diploma
• 5,504 (5.6%) dropped out
• 2,715 (2.8%) earned an applied studies or modified standard diploma
• 1,064 (1.1%) earned a GED
Applied studies and modified standard diplomas are available only to students with disabilities, according to a press release from VDOE. Students who earn high school equivalency certificates — such as a GED — or complete high school without earning a diploma are not included as graduates, the release stated.
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.