Graduation and Not, 2016

VDOE posted the 2016 4-year cohort graduation data yesterday.  Their press release burbled on about the increase of the On-Time rate to over 91%. 

As we shall see, the On-Time rate is a fiction, created by VDOE to inflate the rate.  But first, some background.

  • The Standard Diploma requires twenty-two “standard credits” and six “verified credits” in specified subjects.  
  • The Advanced Studies Diploma requires twenty-four standard and nine verified credits.

These are the only diplomas recognized by the Feds for calculation of the federal graduation indicator.  VDOE counts three further diplomas toward its inflated “On-Time” graduation rate:

  • The Modified Standard Diploma is available to students “who have a disability and are unlikely to meet the credit requirements for a Standard Diploma.”  This diploma is being phased out in favor of “credit accommodations” that will allow students who would have pursued a Modified Standard Diploma to earn a Standard Diploma.  Those of us who have watched the wholesale institutional cheating via the VGLA may be forgiven for thinking that these accommodations will be a fertile field for schools and divisions to game the system.
  • The Special Diploma, now known by the new euphemism “Applied Studies Diploma,” “is available to students with disabilities who complete the requirements of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who do not meet the requirements of for other diplomas.”
  • The General Achievement Diploma “is intended for individuals who are at least 18 years of age and not enrolled in public school or not otherwise meeting the compulsory school attendance requirements set forth in the Code of Virginia.”  This one does not amount to much in the stats: Richmond had none this year; Virginia, fewer than ten.

I have commented elsewhere on Richmond’s abuse of the process for identifying and testing kids with disabilities.

This year, the 4-year cohort On-Time rate for Virginia was 91.3%.  The federal graduation indicator, known here as the “actual” graduation rate, was 87.7%.

Here are the actual cohort rates.


That 18% difference between the state and Richmond rates is 266 members of the Richmond cohort of 1,476.  Doubtless too many of that 266 will wind up as people you would not want to meet in a dark alley.

Here are the same data, juxtaposed with the inflated “On-Time” rates.


The statewide difference between the “On Time” and federal rates was 3.6% or 3,439 students; the Richmond difference was 10.6%, 156 students.

An analysis by degree type shows Richmond’s shortage of advanced diplomas and excess of nonstandard degrees. 


The Richmond rate decreased this year.


Note:  The estimable Carol Wolf reminds me that all the Richmond graduation rates are bogus in that the Maggie Walker students are reported at high schools they do not attend.