By the numbers: Breakdown of area school districts’ graduation, dropout rates

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) released new information on Tuesday regarding the graduation rates of each school district in the Commonwealth. 

Based on the “Virginia On-Time Graduation Rate,” which indicate the percentage of students who earn a diploma within four years of entering the ninth grade, the data revealed that Richmond Public Schools had the lowest graduation rate in the state.

The VDOE’s website provides a detailed profile of each school district. The site’s “School Quality Profiles” lists school district’s graduation rates, dropout rates and even teacher quality. 

Here’s what the information said about school districts in Central Virginia:


Petersburg City Public Schools saw a 2.6 percent increase in its graduation rate from last year, rising up to 83 percent in 2018.  

The dropout rate in the city was 6.1 percent, just .6 percent more than the state average.

The dropout rate difference between male and female students was 5 percent, with male students in Petersburg dropping out at a rate of 8.6 percent, compared to female students at 3.6 percent. 

Hispanic students had the highest rate of dropout in the city, as 22.2 percent of those students dropped out of Petersburg schools in 2018. 


Colonial Heights’ graduation rate fell by 4.4 percent in 2018, the biggest drop among school districts in the area.  

Dropouts in the district, 4.3 percent, were below the state average, according to the VDOE.

The percentage of students who received a GED, certificate, or other non-diploma in Colonial Heights was 4.3 percent, 1.4 percent more than the Virginia average.  


Chesterfield County students graduated at roughly the same rate, 90.9, as the state average, 91.6, in 2018. 

The county experienced a .8 percent increase from 2017, according to the VDOE’s statistics. 

In regards to dropout rate, Chesterfield County Public Schools’ recorded a higher rate than the state average. 

The district’s dropout rate for 2018 was 6.9 percent, higher than the rates of Henrico, Hanover and Petersburg. 


Henrico County Public Schools’ graduation rate this past year was 92.3 percent, higher than the state average. 

Henrico schools saw a slight bump in graduation rate from the previous year, which had a graduation rate of 91.1 percent

Henrico’s dropout rate for 2018 was 5.3 percent, slightly below the state average. 


When it comes to graduation rate, Hanover County Public Schools surpassed the state average for the third year in a row and had the highest rate in the region.

In 2018, Hanover schools recorded a 95. 2 percent graduation rate, the same exact percentage from the previous school year. 

Hanover also had one of the lowest dropout rates in Virginia, with only 2.7 percent of students leaving school in 2018. 


Richmond City Public Schools on-time graduation rate fell to 75.4 percent this year, down from 76.9 in 2017 when it had the state’s second-worst rate. 

The new report also indicates a 20 percent dropout rate — up from 17.6 percent last year — which suggests that one in five students who began high school in 2014 dropped out.

“I mean it’s a tragedy,” said RPS parent Kirsten Gray. “I’m not surprised but it’s still alarming.”

Gray, an RPS graduate, remembers her high school days. 

“I was a kid fell through the cracks in RPS essentially,” said Gray.  “I graduated with a standard diploma. There is no doubt I could have done a lot more.”

While Richmond currently graduates the lowest percentage of students in the Commonwealth, Gray thinks the numbers can change. 

“It’s top all the way down,” said Gray.  “I mean we need to improve organization and communication. We can’t be operating in silos.”

Gray would also like to see teachers and principals stay within rps and change testing practices. 

“It’s just looking like you’ve passed something on paper but it’s not something where you have true knowledge,” said Gray. 

And while money is tight, stretch every dollar to benefit the students. 

“Where can we put this that will improve literacy rates,” said Gray. “That will improve graduation rates and not false ones through social promotion.”

“This data is not a reflection of our students’ abilities,” Superintendent Jason Kamras said in a release. “It’s a reflection of our failure to provide them with the education they deserve.”

Richmond School board member Jonathan Young pledges to raise the number. 

“The Emperor has been revealed to have no clothes and our students are the ones sustaining the harm because of it,” said board member Jonathan Young.   “Graduation is the bare minimum and we aren’t even doing that for a quarter of our students.”

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