Hampton Roads graduation rates below state average

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – While a new state report Wednesday points to growing high school graduation rates, only Chesapeake in the Hampton Roads area scored on par or better with the rest of Virginia for the class of 2014.

The Virginia Department of Education said the number of seniors walking across the stage on time has risen gradually for the past seven years from 81.3 percent to 89.9 percent in 2014.

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Education
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Education

For the seven cities, that number dropped by about three percentage points from the commonwealth’s average to 86.4 percent this year. Two of the towns posted regresses from 2013 rates, but since statewide public education started to implement the different diploma requirements in 2008, parts of the Hampton Roads area have posted near stationary numbers while others have climbed dramatically.

There are four graduation levels – advanced studies, standard, modified standard and special. For the first time, just over half of the graduates earned an advanced studies diploma.

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Education
Courtesy of Virginia Department of Education

Three cities – Suffolk at 8.8 percent, Norfolk at 8 percent and Portsmouth at 6.4 percent – tallied a dropout rate higher than the state’s average at 5.4 percent. The other four in the area scored below. Of the 327 high schools with graduating classes, 190 schools were lower than the commonwealth’s rate and 68 had higher dropout numbers.

VDOE also outlined statewide increases in graduation rates among minority students.

  • The graduation rate for black students increased 1.3 points to 85.4 percent, while the dropout rate fell by more than a point, from 8.7 percent, to 7.6 percent.
  • The graduation rate for Hispanic students increased by a tenth of a point to 83.4 percent, while the dropout rate rose by two-tenths of a point, to 11.9 percent.
  • The graduation rate for students with disabilities increased by 1.4 points to 87 percent and the dropout rate fell from 10.5 percent to 9.8 percent.

The full reports can be read here. Below are summaries for the seven cities regarding the 2014 numbers compared to 2008.


  • It boasted a 92.9 graduation rate leading the Hampton Roads area by almost four points.
  • The city’s numbers for students stayed mostly stagnant except for those who identified as homeless. In 2013, eight of the 10 homeless students graduated. This year 10 of 10 finished high school.
  • Chesapeake was one of the Hampton Roads cities that comparatively sat still since 2008. It graduated almost 88 seniors in the first year of the new education program.


  • The northern city graduation rate fell several percentage-points from 85.5 percent in 2013 to 83.9 in 2014.
  • Seven years ago Hampton handed 72 percent of its seniors a diploma.

Newport News:

  • Significant improvement from 2013 moving 85.2 percent across the stage to 88 percent now.
  • Newport News had a similar jump to Hampton. VDOE reported 72.8 percent graduation rates in 2008.


  • Norfolk scored the lowest in 2014 for graduating. It mailed out diplomas to 78.9 percent of its senior body.
  • That’s a 1 point increase from 2013 – compared to the 73.2 percent rate from 2008.
  • The biggest gap for Norfolk is in boy and girl students. In 2014, 83.3 percent of female students graduated compared to 74.5 percent of males.


  • Portsmouth posted a four-point gain in 2014 from 80.9 to 85.1 percent.
  • It’s another step forward for the city that graduated just 60.7 students seven years ago.


  • Suffolk had the second drop in 2014. It went from an 87.2 percent rate to an 86.4 this year. It’s still 12 percentage points up from 2008.
  • Students who took the biggest hit in Suffolk were those that identified as black. Eighty-seven percent graduated in 2013 but just 84.5 percent finished in 2014.

Virginia Beach:

  • Virginia Beach jumped half-percentage point on its graduation rate, going from 88 percent last year to 88.5 this year.
  • Like each area in Virginia, Virginia Beach has grown from its 84.2 percent rate in 2008.
  • The graduation rate for students with disabilities increased from 79 to 82 percent in 2014.

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