Alexandria City boasts rising grad rate, low dropout numbers

More than 90% of students at Alexandria, Virginia’s lone high school graduated last year, according to new numbers released Friday by the state’s Department of Education.

At the same time, Alexandria City Public Schools’ dropout rate plunged to 5%. It is the highest on-time graduation rate (91%) and lowest student dropout numbers since the state began reporting the figures in 2008.

The previous highest on-time graduation rate for the school district was 86% in 2013 and the lowest dropout rate was 8% two years ago.

The latest improvements come during a tumultuous school year, as students and teachers were forced to start the year with a virtual learning model and later shift to in-person classes, Alexandria City High School Executive Principal Peter Balas said.

“What these numbers show us is that our kids were still engaged,” Balas said. “They were still caring about their grades and studies and really wanted to be connected.”

An area of gains the school district is beaming about is the graduation rate among Hispanic and English-learning students.

School leaders tracked an uptick in those numbers by 15% and 19%, respectively.

Balas said the school district had a plan for all students, but it really beefed up its efforts to reach Hispanic students this past year.

“We were very intentional about our Hispanic population,” Balas said. “We identify a case load of students to help remove any barriers that are preventing them from succeeding in school.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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