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Education: Graduations rates are reason to celebrate

West Virginians know from generations of experience that education does not always come in the classroom. For that reason, we have been slower to make the shift to valuing educational attainment in the same way that perhaps it is valued in some other parts of the country. But the economy changed around us, and we know we must change our approach if we are to keep up.

It is encouraging, then, to see there has been an improvement in the past three years in the Mountain State’s high school graduation rate. After graduation rates of 90.2 percent and 91.3 percent in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively, the graduation rate for 2019-20 was 92.1 percent.

State Department of Education officials will have to do a little digging to find out how many high school seniors were pushed through to graduation with more leniency than normal, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still the numbers are a good sign.

Statewide, the Department of Education’s report shows a 92.4 percent graduation rate among white students, a 98.7 percent rate among Asian Americans, a 92.8 percent rate among Hispanic students and an 86.1 percent rate among Black students. The rate was 93.5 percent for female students and 90.7 percent for males.

Doddridge County did best, with a reported 100 percent graduation rate in 2019-20, while McDowell County Schools had the lowest rate at 82.5 percent. Wood County’s overall four-year graduation rate for 2019-20 was 90 percent, with both Parkersburg South and Williamstown high schools reporting 100 percent graduation rates, but Parkersburg High School reporting 84.62 percent.

It is good news, then, and teachers and administrators are to be commended for their work toward these improvements. Much of the rest of the work is outside their control, as students have a broad range of support and encouragement — or not — when they are not at school. It is up to families and communities to help students understand the value of completing their high school education, and to show them –all of them — they CAN do it.

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