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Graduation rate beats state average / October 10, 2019

Halifax County’s on-time graduation rate took a slight dip with the Class of 2019 but still ranked above the state average, the Virginia Department of Education reported Tuesday.

The four-year cohort at Halifax County High School graduated at a rate of 93.3 percent, higher than the statewide mark of 91.5 percent for the Class of 2019. However, this year’s on-time graduation rate at HCHS was slightly lower than the figure from the year before, when 94.5 percent of the Class of 2018 graduated within four years.

“Michael Lewis [HCHS principal] really stays on top of the graduation rate,” said Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg, who explained that school officials view the graduation numbers as a data point, not an end goal. The graduation rate is “a step. I think the next step is to make school more relevant for our kids.

“There are a number of things we’re trying to do. We’re trying to get them more involved in advanced classes, trying to make our CTE program more robust. We’re trying to address those challenges,” he said.

Modest variations in the data from year to year probably don’t say much about the work being done at the high school to keep students engaged and progressing forward, Lineburg added.

“I would think it’s just one class being different from the next. There’s nothing different [in approach].”

Of the 356 students in the Class of 2019 at HCHS, only 17 dropped out — all of whom fell into the category of economically disadvantaged. Graduation rates were fairly consistent across subgroups: 93.7 percent of girls earned diplomas, compared to 92.8 percent of boys. The graduation rate for white students was 93.7 percent, and 92.4 percent for black students. Hispanic students, numbering 14, posted a 100 percent graduation rate.

Of the 333 completers at the high school, 188 earned Standard Diplomas, and 120 received Advanced Studies Diplomas. To graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma, students must complete math up to Algebra II and take foreign language classes, sciences such as biology, physics or chemistry, and classes in Virginia, U.S. and world history.

The number of graduates in the Class of 2019 who received Advanced Studies Diplomas dropped off from the year before. In 2018, 133 students earned advanced degrees.

The Class of 2018 also had 29 more students than this year’s graduating class: 385 compared to 356.

The remaining degree completers with the Class of 2019 earned Special Diplomas, which are limited to students with disabilities. That group numbered 24 students.

The HCHS dropout rate this year was 4.8 percent, twice the 2.3 percent figure in 2018.

Virginia’s dropout rate was 5.6 percent.

“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.”

The share of HCHS graduates who earned advanced degrees trailed the Virginia average — 33.7 percent in Halifax County, compared to 51.5 percent statewide. Graduates receiving a Standard Diploma comprised 53.4 percent of the HCHS Class of 2019, compared to 37.2 percent of high school graduates throughout Virginia.

Since 2011, high schools have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion to earn state accreditation.

Graduation data for Virginia high schools and school divisions can be found at the Virginia Department of Education website,

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