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Henry, Patrick top state rate for on-time diplomas

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County and Patrick County school divisions’ 2013 on-time graduation rates and dropout rates were better than the state rates, but the Martinsville division’s rates were worse than the state figures.

Bassett High School’s 2013 on-time graduation rate of 93.8 percent was better than the state rate of 89.1 percent, while Magna Vista High School’s rate of 85.3 percent was worse than the state’s.

Because there is only one high school each in the Martinsville and Patrick County school divisions, the on-time graduation rates for Martinsville High School and Patrick County High School are the same as their school divisions: 83.7 percent in Martinsville and 91.3 percent in Patrick County.

Martinsville High School’s dropout rate was more than twice the state rate, and Magna Vista, Bassett and Patrick County high schools’ dropout rates were better than the state rate.

The Henry County school division’s, Bassett High’s and Magna Vista High’s on-time graduation rates and dropout rates all improved from 2012 to 2013.

Martinsville High’s and Patrick County High’s on-time graduation rates fell from 2012 to 2013, and their dropout rates increased.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday nearly nine out of 10 students (89.1 percent) who entered the ninth grade in the fall of 2009 earned diplomas within four years, and 55.8 percent of the commonwealth’s high school graduates earned Advanced Studies Diplomas, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).

The statewide dropout rate fell to 5.9 percent for the class of 2013, compared with 6.5 percent for the class of 2012, the release stated.

According to VDOE data, the Henry County school division’s 2013 on-time graduation rate was 90.2 percent (compared with 86.5 percent in 2012), Bassett High School’s was 93.84 percent (compared with 91.1 percent in 2012), and Magna Vista’s was 85.26 percent (compared with 80.8 percent in 2012). Virginia’s 2013 on-time graduation rate was 89.11 percent.

The school division’s rate reflects the two high schools combined.

The Henry County school division’s 2013 dropout rate was 2.7 percent, less than half the state’s rate of 5.91 percent, according to VDOE data.

“That’s good, isn’t it?” Henry County Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton said.

The division’s rate was 5.9 percent in 2012, according to VDOE data.

Bassett’s 2013 dropout rate was 2.1 percent (compared with 3.8 percent in 2012), and Magna Vista’s 2013 dropout rate was 3.6 percent (compared with 8.4 percent in 2012), according to VDOE data.

Cotton said the division’s 2013 on-time graduation rates are “an indication several initiatives we’re putting in place are having an impact. ...” He said the division is focusing on such things as working with students to map out courses they need, monitoring pass rates on Standards of Learning tests, addressing any educational concerns right away, offering after-school remediation and providing additional opportunities to test as permitted. He also said relationships are important and that teachers are connecting with students.

He said the school division has set an expectation that all students will achieve an advanced diploma.

As for the dropout rates, he said, school counselors and administrators are closely monitoring students, making sure they get extra support needed to be successful and working with families. “We don’t give up on students,” he said.

He said both high schools do outstanding jobs of monitoring student progress.

Martinsville High School had a 2013 on-time graduation rate of 83.67 percent (compared with 86.5 percent in 2012), according to VDOE data.

Martinsville High School had a 2013 dropout rate of 12.76 percent, more than twice Virginia’s rate of 5.91 percent. MHS’ dropout rate was 10.4 percent in 2012, according to VDOE data. Martinsville schools Superintendent Pam Heath said Tuesday that city educators still are studying the figures. But right off, she noted that Martinsville’s graduation requirements are among the highest in the state.

She also said she is concerned about the high school’s dropout rate.

“We have students with many challenges. It takes close monitoring and working with them to make sure they don’t slip through the cracks,” she said.

The city’s high unemployment rate “impacts children and families as well,” she said, adding that she knows students who feel they have to work to support their families, so they are not in school.

“We’ve got to really follow up on kids who face those types of challenges to see what we can do and schedule them in a way they can be successful,” she said.

Also, Heath said the state’s Standards of Learning tests were harder this year, and declining passing rates impact students.

The schools have been working with individual students and closely monitoring them, she said.

“We’ve been working on it and would like our numbers to be better. We can’t have kids slip through the cracks,” she added.

Patrick County High School had a 2013 on-time graduation rate of 91.34 percent (compared with 94.1 percent in 2012). The school had a 2013 dropout rate of 4.33 percent (compared with 2.7 percent in 2012), according to VDOE data.

Officials with the Patrick County school division could not be reached Tuesday.

 

 
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