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Nelson schools' on-time graduation rate improves
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Nelson schools' on-time graduation rate improves

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Despite the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, a high percentage of the class of 2021 graduated on time — a trend seen both locally and across the state.

The Virginia Department of Education on Sept. 30 released on-time graduation rates and dropout rates for the class of 2021 cohort, showing more than nine out of 10 students who entered ninth grade during the 2017-18 school year earned a diploma and graduated from high school within four years.

According to VDOE data, 93% of the 97,155 students across the commonwealth in the class of 2021 graduated on time, compared with 92.3% of the 2020 cohort. The dropout rate for the class of 2021 dropped slightly to 4.3% from 5.1% for the previous graduating class.

“In addition to congratulating our 2021 graduates for their perseverance under extraordinary and challenging circumstances, I want to thank the state Board of Education for the emergency guidance it approved last fall that allowed for greater flexibility in the awarding of verified credits toward graduation,” said James Lane, superintendent of public instruction. “The board’s action — and the emergency waivers I issued last year — ensured that students were not prevented from graduating by pandemic-related factors beyond their control.”

Members of the class of 2021 were in the spring of their junior year when the COVID-19 pandemic first interrupted their high school careers. The class didn’t see a normal day of school their entire senior year — enduring hybrid or remote learning, canceled proms and limited social interaction instead.

Still, nearly all of them graduated on time.

Nelson County Public Schools’ on-time graduation rate was 92.4% and its dropout rate was 3.8%.

The division saw a significant increase in its on-time graduation rate for the 2021 cohort from nearly 88.4% in 2020 and 89.6% in 2019.

The division’s dropout rate of 3.8% was slightly lower than the state’s at 4.3%.

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Education reporter

Cross covers K-12 and higher education for The News & Advance. An Asheboro, North Carolina native, Cross joined The News & Advance team in January 2020 after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in journalism.

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