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W.Va. Graduation Requirements Are Among Toughest

June 20, 2006

CHARLESTON, W.Va. _ High schools across West Virginia are graduating a greater percentage of students than the national average.  

Overall, West Virginia’s graduation rate is 72.8 percent compared to 69.6 percent nationally, according to Education Week’s inaugural Diplomas Count: An Essential Guide to Graduation Policy and Rates.  

The report released Tuesday is based on 2002-2003 data, the most recent available for all states, and was analyzed by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center.  

“I applaud the tireless efforts of teachers and students across West Virginia,” said state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine. “It is because of their work and dedication that this ranking was achieved. But we recognize that West Virginia has room for improvement and are dedicated to making that happen. We are not satisfied with just beating the national average.”  

West Virginia’s graduation rate exceeds the national average at a time when the state Board of Education and Department of Education has moved to toughen graduation requirements.  

West Virginia is one of only four states, including Alabama, Florida and South Carolina, that require 24 credits for graduation. The national average is 20.5 credits, according to the report. Some states require as few as 13 credits to earn a high school diploma.  

“We are doing great things in West Virginia to prepare our students for the 21st century,” said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “West Virginia is proud to be a leader when it comes to higher expectations for our students. This report tells me, we’re on the right path.”  

West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in November 2005. The Partnership's framework emphasizes information and communications technology literacy, critical thinking, communication skills, global awareness, and business, economic and civic literacy.  

If you want to see how West Virginia’s graduation rates stack up against other states and the nation, you can view the report at www.edweek.org.  

Diplomas Count is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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