Credit: Credit: Albemarle County Public Schools

Division’s Drop-Out Rate Is 48 Percent Lower Than State Average

The on-time graduation rate for Albemarle County public high schools students in 2017 was 94.7 percent, continuing a long-term trend in which these rates have exceeded state and national averages. The comparable rate for all Virginia high school students in 2017 was 91 percent, and it was 83 percent for all high schools students across the nation. On-time graduation measures the percentage of students who enter high school as ninth graders in a school division and receive their diplomas within four years.

A total of 1,037 students in the school division graduated this year, with 659 students earning the more rigorous Advanced Studies diploma. This 64 percent of all students also was higher than the statewide average in Virginia, where 52 percent all graduates in 2017 earned Advanced Studies diplomas.

Albemarle County’s drop-out rate also was better than state and national averages. Across Virginia, the drop-out rate actually increased last year to 5.8 percent. The most recent national percentage according to the Center of Education Statistics was 5.9 percent. Locally, the drop-out rate declined from 2.9 to 2.8 percent, which was less than half the state number.
“Our statistics again reveal an impressive performance by our students and their teachers and supporting staff,” said Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s deputy superintendent. “These numbers closely connect to our strategic goal of preparing students for post-graduate success. They only are possible because of the emphasis we place on student engagement with their own learning. Giving students more voice and choice in their research and providing more opportunities for students to be creative and apply knowledge to problem-solving works. They are the hallmarks of effective contemporary education,” he added.

Among the highlights in this year’s report from the state:
•The on-time graduation rate at Western Albemarle High School was 97.3 percent, with 71 percent of all students earning Advanced Studies Diplomas.
•Albemarle High School, which had an on-time graduation rate of 95.7 percent, lowered its drop-out rate to 1.5 percent.
•The on-time graduation rate for African-American students at Monticello High School was 97.8 percent, and for all students, it was 91.4 percent

Currently, Dr. Haas said, several programs in the division are expected to improve overall learning experiences and further improve the performance of high school students. The programs include a high school facilities planning study that will yield recommendations on how best to reduce overcrowding in the division’s three high schools; the modernization of classroom in schools throughout the county; an “Equity & Access” initiative that will work with schools in eliminating opportunity gaps among student demographic groups; and High School 2022, which will place greater focus on work-based and project-based learning experiences both inside the classroom and in the local community.

Earlier this year, Niche, a national education assessment organization, ranked Albemarle County Public Schools as the third best among the state’s 131 school divisions, based on the quality of its academics, teaching, and the college readiness of its students.

This week, the College Board released the 2017 SAT scores for high school seniors across Virginia and the nation. Average scores for Albemarle County public high school seniors continued their strong upward trend, increasing by 32 points on the verbal portion of the test, while math scores were 15 points higher. The 2016 results, in turn, were improvements over 2015.

The average math score for high school seniors in the county was 580, 42 points above the state average and 63 points better than the national average. On the verbal portion of the test, local scores averaged 596, which was 38 points higher than the average of all high school students who took the test in Virginia and 69 points stronger than students who took the test across the nation.

“I firmly believe we are seeing the return on investment we have made in a curriculum that moves away from traditional practice and places more emphasis on project-based learning. It is those experiences that match up very well with what it takes to succeed in college—critical thinking, problem-solving, being creative and thoughtful, being able to communicate ideas in a compelling way,” Dr. Haas said.