PGCPS on-time graduation rate rises to 93 percent

By Zach Armstrong

PRINCE GEORGE, Va --  Data from the Virginia Department of Education revealed over nine out of ten students at Prince George County Public Schools who entered ninth grade during the 2016-2017 school year earned a diploma and graduated from high school within four years, the school division announced Thursday.

This year’s figures mark the highest on-time graduation rate for PGCPS dating back to 2008. The district’s on-time graduation rate has increased from 77.96% in 2008 to the current rate of 93.22%. The school division sustained a 90% or higher rate every year since 2016.

“Despite the challenges presented to our graduates during the COVID-19 closure, this data shows the resiliency of our teachers and their commitment to ensuring our students received the educational foundation they needed to be future-ready and prepared for the next step in their life's journey,” Division Superintendent Dr. Lisa Pennycuff said in a press release. “Ensuring our students graduate on time and have the support they need to stay engaged in the classroom to reduce instances of student dropouts is a top priority for Prince George County Public Schools.”

The school district continued to maintain a 4% dropout rate since 2016 hitting 4.6% this year. Based on VDOE data, PGCPS’s dropout rate has declined by over 13% since 2008.

Data also revealed that dropout and graduation rates varied for major student racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Among racial groups, hispanic students had a dropout rate of 7.5%, white students had a dropout rate of 3.5% and black students had a dropout rate of 6.5%. Students categorized as “economically disadvantaged” had a dropout rate of 3.4%.

High schools across the commonwealth showed an overall gradual improvement in graduation rates based on data in 2020.

Of the 98,481 students in Virginia’s class of 2020, 92.3% earned a diploma approved by the Board of Education which showed an increase from the 91.5% of the 2019 class despite school closures, State Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced on Sept. 30.

In order for high schools to earn state accreditation, they must meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion. Accreditation standards adopted in 2017 by the state Board of Education includes standards for reducing dropout rates and chronic absenteeism. Since the 2018-19 school year, schools are rated as either accredited, accredited with conditions or accreditation denied.

“My first priority after schools closed was to make sure that every student in the class of 2020 who was on track to earn a diploma was able to graduate on time,” State Superintendent Lane said in a press release.