West Virginia Students Outperforming Counterparts Across the Nation

June 04, 2008

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia students are graduating from high school at a greater percentage than those across the nation, according to Diplomas Count 2008: School to College, Can State   P -16 Councils Ease the Transitions?  
The report, released this week, shows that nearly 73 percent of students in West Virginia received their high school diplomas, compared to a national graduation rate of about 70 percent. Diplomas Count 2008 also indicates that West Virginia is one of only 15 states that defines college readiness and one of 26 states that defines work readiness.  
Diplomas Count is published annually by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center and Education Week, a national education magazine. Diplomas Count is a comprehensive analysis of public high school graduation rates. Diplomas Count 2008 provides updated graduation rate findings for the class of 2005. 
“Even though West Virginia exceeds the national graduation average, we will not rest,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “In the 21st century it is no longer enough for a student to graduate with knowledge in the core subjects. We know that these core subjects must be joined by content of the 21st century so that students can succeed in college and the workplace.”  
In 2005, West Virginia became the second state in the nation to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The Partnership's framework puts a special emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills, global awareness and business literacy. West Virginia has adopted six elements of 21st century learning that focus not only on the basics like math, science and reading, but also on skills backed by the partnership.  

Diplomas Count estimated graduation rates across the nation based on the Cumulative Promotion Index. West Virginia has even more accurate data as part of its West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS). Students in the state have a unique identification number so they can be tracked throughout their time in public schools.

“Our figures indicate that our graduation rate is actually 84.3 percent,” Paine said. “Thanks to principals, teachers and parents, our students have the support system needed not only to successfully complete high school but also to excel in college and the workplace.” 

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education proposed the use of the National Governors Association (NGA) Graduation Rate Compact as the benchmark for improving graduation rate reporting. The West Virginia Department of Education strongly agrees that there must be a nationwide uniform calculation for graduation and dropout rates.

“In the future, West Virginia will use the NGA definition for a dropout calculation even though we believe we have already wrapped our arms around accurate dropout numbers. A clear nationwide definition of a dropout calculation is an important first step in gathering reliable data,” Paine said.
“In West Virginia, we not only support a uniform calculation, we also support transparency of data. I am confident that most would agree that even one dropout is too many. Schools, parents, students and the community must be willing to take responsibility for students staying in school. We must be ready to take bold moves, work together and face the dropout issue head on.”
This year’s report also explores the rapid growth of state-level P-16 councils. By bringing together key representatives from all levels of education, state government, business and the community, the councils seek to better align educational institutions from preschool through postsecondary. In West Virginia, the P-20 21st Century Jobs Cabinet was established by Gov. Joe Manchin.
For the full Diplomas Count 2008 report, visit www.edweek.org or contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communications Office at (304) 558-2699.  

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