ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- For the 12th year in a row, the Albemarle County Public Schools division' on-time graduation rate has exceeded the state average.
The Virginia Department of Education says 94.4 percent of the high school seniors in the county graduated on time earlier this year. That is up one percentage point over the rate of 2018.
The state average is 91.5 percent of seniors graduating on time, which means within four years of entering high school. Across the country, the average rate is 85 percent.
The schools division also says nearly two-thirds of students earned an Advanced Studies Diploma, compared to 51.5 percent in the state.
ACPS adds its dropout rate of 4.1 percent was 1.5 percentage points below the state average.
“For our teachers, administrator and support staff, this report in many respects is our final exam,” said ACPS Deputy Superintendent Debora Collins. “Our one strategic goal is to prepare graduated for lifetime success. On all three measures, on-time graduation, advanced studies diplomas and dropout rate, our strong numbers indicate that students are entering the next phase of their life well-positioned for high achievement as learners, workers and citizens.”
The schools division also says its on-time graduation rate for several specific demographic groups surpassed the statewide rates. These groups include black, Hispanic students, students with disabilities, students from economically disadvantaged homes, students for whom English is their second language, Asian students, and students whose families are made up of two or more races.
However, these numbers were also well below the overall rate for Albemarle County schools.
The schools division is making some changes, including expanding learning opportunities and enhancing learning environments for all students.
For example, the Freshman Seminar class, which helps students with their social, emotional and academic development, is in its second year. This program also provides counseling to match career interested and academic selections.
ACPS is also expanding its project-based learning center for seniors to add college credit classes this year. Sophomore and juniors will also be able to attend the center this year.
The culturally responsive teaching programs is also growing, including a division-wide focus on matching instructional practices with individualized learning styles for students.
There is also a new pilot program that aims to reduce out-of-school suspension in middle school, which could be made permanent and extended to the high schools next year.
Collins adds the division is also looking at options to bring high-speed Internet services into student homes across the county where such access is not available at this time.