Data recently released by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) shows Henry County Public Schools (HCPS) on-time graduation rate for 2019 at 89.8 percent. A notable improvement in achievement was made by African American students.

More than eight out of every 10 students who started at Bassett and Magna Vista high schools in the fall of 2015 earned a diploma in 2019, with 40 percent of HCPS graduates earning an Advanced Studies diploma.

African American students experienced increases in graduation rates, from 84 percent in 2018 to 92.8 percent in 2019, data showed.

“We are so proud of each of our graduates and the great things they are going out into the world to do,” said Superintendent Sandy Strayer. “Our goal is to continue to facilitate the most appropriate path to a successful future for each student based on his/her needs so that every student who leaves Henry County Public Schools is college, career and citizenship ready.”

Martinsville City School officials could not immediately be reached for comment, but across Virginia, more than nine out of ten students who entered the ninth grade in 2015 earned a diploma within four years, the VDOE reported. More than half — 51.5 percent — 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 percent earned a Board of Education-approved diploma, compared with 91.6 percent of the 2018 cohort. The dropout rate for the class of 2019 was 5.6 percent, compared with 5.5 percent 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 percent) earned an Advanced Studies Diploma (including International Baccalaureate).
  • 36,614 (37.2 percent) earned a Standard Diploma.
  • 2,715 (2.8 percent) earned an Applied Studies or Modified Standard Diploma.
  • 1,064 (1.1 percent) earned a GED.
  • 5,504 (5.6 percent) 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 percent 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.