W-JCC graduation rates remain mostly steady; York sees a slight improvement

aheymann@vagazette.com

Williamsburg-James City County Schools’ on-time graduation rates have remained mostly steady, while York County Schools have seen a slight increase the past four years, according to a report released Monday by the Virginia Department of Education.

On-time graduation rates are measured by the number of students who earned a Board of Education-approved diploma within four years of entering high school for the first time.

For the past four years, W-JCC’s on-time graduation rate has hovered around 92 percent. In the report for the class of 2018, 92.1 percent of students graduated on-time compared to 92.3 in 2017.

However, overall on-time graduation has increased by just over one full percentage point since 2015, when 90.9 percent of students graduated within four years.

Catherine Worley, assistant superintendent at W-JCC, credits the district’s graduation rate to faculty relationships with families and students.

“Each school has a student advancement coach along with a team of administrators that work together,” Worley said.

Worley said when teachers and administrators notice a student slipping, they reach out to help the student get back on track to graduate on time. When she was still Jamestown High School’s principal, Worley said she’d often make home visits to communicate with families.

The only W-JCC school to see a higher graduation rate in 2018 was Jamestown High School, where 94.2 percent of students received their diplomas on-time, compared to 93.1 percent in 2017.

Lafayette and Warhill had a slight dip in scores — 0.5 and 0.9 percentage points, respectively.

Even if a student doesn’t graduate in four years, Worley said the district does everything it can to get them back on track.

“Sometimes students face hardships, like a sickness or something, but we work with them to help them get their diploma,” Worley said.

York County’s on-time graduation rate has fluctuated, but overall has increased the past four years. In 2018’s report, 96.9 percent of students graduated on time compared to 96.5 in 2017.

York County schools that improved in 2018 were Bruton High, which had 94.1 percent of students received diplomas on-time, compared to 87.1 percent in 2017, and Tabb, which had 98.2 percent of students received diplomas on-time compared to 96 percent in 2017.

Grafton High School saw a slight dip in its score with a 0.3 percentage point decrease. York High School maintained the same graduation rate of 96.9 percent.

These numbers do not include students who take an extra year or more to earn their diplomas. For example, while 91.6 percent of W-JCC students earned their degree on time in 2016, 92.3 percent earned it within five years and 92.7 percent of students earned it within six years..

However, even with help, a majority of students who do not earn their degree in four years do not receive their diploma within six years. This can be seen with the class of 2016.

After six years since entering high school, only 1.1 percent more of W-JCC students earned their diploma, leaving 7.3 percent without one.

Even though W-JCC has stayed above the state average for the past four years, Virginia’s average is quickly catching up to the district. The state average has increased in the past four years. In the state, 91.6 percent of students graduated on-time in 2018 compared to 91.1 percent in 2017.

One of the ways Worley said the district is working to improve its graduation rate is by thinking of students as people rather than just a number on a report.

“We want to find out what are (student’s) barriers and how we can help them,” Worley said. “Our number one goal is to get all students graduated.”

Want to learn more?

For more information or to look up on-time graduation rates for other schools or districts, visit doe.virginia.gov.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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