More Graduate OnTime; Fewer Dropouts from WJCC Schools

October 28th, 2009 by Kim Lenz

WJCC-logo-1Williamsburg-James City County schools had more students graduate on-time and fewer students drop out in the cohort of students attending schools from 2005-2009, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education.

Numbers were not immediately available from the York County School Division.

But dropouts haven’t been eradicated. “Naturally, we are pleased that these numbers are, by and large, headed in the right direction given this comparison of two different cohorts of students. Having said that, 66 students dropped out of high school in 2009 in WJCC and for them we must be concerned,” said Superintendent Gary Mathews in a release from the district. WJCC will have a community summit on dropout prevention in January.

A cohort is a group of students followed from their freshman through senior years. The numbers reflect transfers and dropouts within each four-year span, allowing the education department to get a clearer picture of dropout rates. The VDE released its first cohort report last year, tracking students who attended schools from 2004 to 2008.

The numbers reflect on-time graduation rates, dropout rates and completion rates, which count students earning a regular diploma or G.E.D. The data includes comparisons with statewide numbers and provides statistics for each race and socioeconomic group in an effort to identify which groups need more attention.

Overall, WJCC has an 82.33 percent on-time graduation rate for all 849 students in the cohort. The dropout rate for all students dropped by 0.81 percent to 7.77 percent in WJCC. The district’s completion rate was 87.4 percent, a 0.10 percent gain from the previous cohort. The entire cohort was smaller than the previous group, however; the 2004-2008 cohort had 921 students.

The district showed considerable progress with Hispanic students; their on-time graduation rate gained by 13.75 percent, their dropout rate dropped by 6.87 percent and their completion rate gained by 16.3 percent. The amount of economically disadvantaged students dropping out also improved significantly; 11.38 percent fewer students quit school.

The numbers seem unfavorable for white students, however; the dropout rate gained by 0.32 percent and the completion rate dropped by 0.90 percent. But the number of students dropping out was stagnant – 31 students dropped out in each cohort; the 2005-2009 cohort had 72 fewer students than the previous one.

In an e-mail sent to community members after the release, Mathews said the schools still had to strive for better results. “We still have work to do in further reducing our dropout rate and enhancing our On-Time Graduation Rate and Completion Rate,” he said. “Our faculty is up to it! No doubt.”

Across the state, the on-time graduation rate was 83.2 percent, a 1.10 percent gain. The dropout rate dropped by 0.78 percent to 7.90 percent and the completion rate gained by 0.8 percent. The statewide cohort included 98,043 students; the previous cohort had 96,152 students.

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