Richmond graduation rate drops 5% after transcript crackdown; still lowest in state

Richmond graduation rate drops 5% after transcript crackdown; still lowest in state
Richmond's graduation rate dropped 5% from 2018 to 2019, amid a transcript crackdown. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Graduation rates across the state were released Tuesday, and Richmond Public Schools has the lowest number of seniors graduating on-time in Virginia.

In fact, the RPS graduation rate fell from 75% in 2018 to 70% this past spring.

School leaders say they anticipated the decline.

An audit of student transcripts last year revealed a lot of performance-padding. Some students got “breaks” that didn’t follow the state guidelines.

For example, some students took the same class multiple times for credit. Some credits were inappropriately assigned, and some kids were allowed to take unapproved local courses that counted towards credit.

Superintendent Jason Kamras said at the time that his administration has now cracked down on these administrative practices to make transcripts “clean." Kamras said in May that he expected this might lower the graduation rate.

Kamras sent out a statement after the Virginia Department of Education released the numbers:

"We are of course deeply disappointed by the latest graduation numbers, but as we shared last spring, we knew a decline was possible – if not likely – as we stopped a number of inappropriate adult practices that were artificially inflating our rate. We've taken a number of steps to guard against these practices from returning, and have put a variety of supports in place to help our students graduate on time. We clearly have more work to do, but I'm confident we are now heading in the right direction.

Finally, I want to reiterate something I’ve often said about our students: they are every bit as capable as those in any other school division; we, the adults, just need to make sure we give them every opportunity to succeed. With our strategic plan, Dreams4RPS, that’s exactly what we’re going to do."

Statewide, 91.5% of seniors earned a diploma in 2019, compared with 91.6% the year before. The dropout rate for the class of 2019 was 5.6%, compared with 5.5% for the previous graduating class.

In Central Virginia:

Henrico’s graduation rate dropped from 92.3% (2018) to 90.8% (2019).

Chesterfield’s graduation rate remained relatively the same from 90.9% (2018) to 90.6% (2019).

Hopewell’s graduation rate dropped from 90.9% (2018) to 85.6% (2019).

Hanover’s graduation rate remained relatively the same from 95.1% (2018) to 95% (2019).

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