Graduation rates on the rise in Petersburg

By Nicole Bell - bio | email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A major accomplishment for Petersburg Public Schools. The district's on-time graduation rate has jumped significantly.

Figures released by the Virginia Department of Education indicate Petersburg schools had the largest increase in on time graduation in the state.

School leaders call the news good but say, more work needs to be done.

High school hasn't always been easy for 17-year-old Lashawn Mays. "I've had times where I've felt like giving up," says Mays.

But he didn't give up. Mays will graduate, on time,  this school year.

"I want to graduate in the top 25 at least -- but I'm striving for top 10," said Mays.

There are signs of progress at Petersburg High School . The school is fully accredited  for the second consecutive year.

And now, word from the state that the school's on-time graduation rate is up by nearly 13 percent.

"We want to make sure it's a 100 percent -- that's the goal," said Petersburg High Principal, Alicia Fields.

Here's the breakdown,  out of the 420 freshmen students who entered the high school in 2005, 258 graduated on time in 2009.

And out of the 391 freshmen students who entered the school in 2006, 291 graduated on time.

"Our teachers are more intense and focusing on student progress whether it's attendance or academics," Fields said. "Each teacher is focused on calling their students when they're not in class and trying to find out why they're not in school and when they come to school making sure they make up the work."

Although the school district's on time  graduation rate now stands at nearly 75 percent, it is below the state average of 85.5 percent.

School leaders say they're fighting to keep the momentum moving forward.

"I'm very excited by the gains that have been made but I will not rest until it is 100 percent," Fields said.

According to that state study the on time graduation rate for the commonwealth overall increased by two points to 85.5 percent.

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