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On-time-graduation rates for students in Fairfax County Public Schools’ Class of 2020 recorded modest but largely across-the-board increases from a year before, according to new state data.

The county’s public-school students posted a 93-percent on-time graduation rate, up from 91.3 percent a year before, according to new data from the Virginia Department of Education.

Rates rose among both genders and in major racial/ethnic groups compared to the Class of 2019, while the school system’s dropout rate showed improvement, declining from 7.4 percent in 2019 to 6.2 percent in 2020.

The percentage of students earning advanced diplomas in 2020 – 61.2 percent – was effectively unchanged from a year before.

Among various sub-groups of students, news at the county level was positive:

• 91.3% of male students graduated on time, up from 89.4% a year before.

• 94.9% of female students graduated, up from 93.4%.

• 98.3% of Asian students graduated, up from 97.8%.

• 95.9% of black students graduated, up from 93.5%.

• 82.7% of Hispanic students graduated, up from 81.4%.

• 79.9% of English-language-learners graduated, up from 74.6%.

Fairfax’s generally positive news was mirrored at the state level, where 92.3 percent of nearly 99,000 potential graduates in the Class of 2020 earned diplomas on time, up from 91.5 percent a year before. The dropout rate also improved, declining from 5.6 percent to 5.1 percent.

“My first priority after schools closed [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] 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,” Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane said.

Due to the pandemic, state education officials issued a number of waivers, including allowing students to graduate without taking required Standards of Learning tests and, in some cases, without completingd courses that otherwise would be deemed required.

Statewide among various groups:

• 98.1% of Asian students graduated and 1.2% dropped out.

• 91.3% of black students graduated and 5% dropped out.

• 81.9% of Hispanic students graduated and 15.8% dropped out.

• 95.2% of white students graduated and 2.5% dropped out.

• 90.4% of students with disabilities graduated and 7.6% dropped out.

• 89% of economically disadvantaged students graduated and 6.8% dropped out.

• 73% of English learners graduated and 25.5% dropped out.

Since 2011, high schools in Virginia have had to meet an annual benchmark for graduation and completion to earn state accreditation. Schools receive full credit for students who earn diplomas and partial credit for students who remain enrolled, earn GEDs or otherwise complete high school. In addition, revisions to the accreditation standards adopted by the state Board of Education in 2017 include benchmarks for reducing dropout rates and chronic absenteeism.

For full data at the state, division and school levels, see the Website at https://bit.ly/2Sf80yB.

[Sun Gazette Newspapers provides content to, but otherwise is unaffiliated with, InsideNova or Rappahannock Media LLC.]

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