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High School Graduation

A high school diploma is a critical milestone on the path to a post-secondary degree and/or a self-sustaining career.

Whether you are headed to college, pursuing a credential or beginning your career, a high school diploma is essential. High school graduates have a higher earning potential, contribute more to our local economy and are more engaged in the community.

Unfortunately, too many of our residents – particularly those in low-income areas – are not graduating high school on time – if at all. One out of every 10 high school students in the Richmond and Petersburg region did not graduate on time. We can do better. We must do better.

Increasingly, completion of high school or its equivalent is the minimum level of education sought by employers. Moreover, unemployment rates are lower and lifetime earnings are substantially higher for high school graduates than students who drop out.

When compared to their peers who finish high school or college, youth who drop out of school often have lower salaries and are more likely to become unemployed. The high school dropout rate is based on a four-year study of a group of students who enter ninth grade for the first time together with the expectation that they will graduate in four years. It expresses the percentage of students in an expected graduating class who dropped out – and did not re-enroll – during that four-year period.

Children missing more than 10% of the days in a school year (about 18 days or two absences per month) are much more likely to struggle to graduate high school on time. Chronic absenteeism creates and widens achievement gaps throughout elementary, middle and high school.

Students from low-income families are more likely to be chronically absent and the impact of absenteeism on their academic performance is twice as great as it is on their more affluent peers.

Youth who are arrested as juveniles have higher rates of incarceration as an adult. National studies have shown that up to one-third of incarcerated youth return to incarceration within a few years after release. There is an indirect correlation between educational attainment and arrest and incarceration rates, particularly among males.