DoE: LEP has lowest graduation rate

Brent Finnegan -- October 22nd, 2009

Earlier this week the Virginia Department of Education released the state graduation “on-time” rates for the class of 2009. The numbers for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students in Harrisonburg was low.

In Harrisonburg, 80.9 percent of high school students in the 2009 class graduated on time. That’s a few points below the state average of 83.2. Rockingham County schools, on the other hand, were several points above sate average, with 87.4 percent of students graduating on time.

The report shows that Hispanic students in the city had the lowest rate of any ethnicity: 62 percent. The lowest numbers represented on the chart are LEP students at 60.4 percent, and migrants (27.3 percent).

If the the high ESL enrollment in kindergarten classes reported in 2006 is any indication of high school graduation rates and local adult population to come, this may be cause for concern.

I don’t have the last several years of reports to compare the 2009 numbers to. If you have access to those numbers, how do the numbers for Hispanic and LEP students rise or fall?

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8 Responses to “DoE: LEP has lowest graduation rate”

  1. Renee says:

    Is there any breakdown based on how long they have been in the school system? For instance, I’d expect a large difference between someone that came here as an LEP 2nd grader, and someone that came here as an LEP 11th grader.

  2. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    I also wish the data showed not just “on-time” graduation but eventual graduation vs. dropouts. If a student stays in high school five years (which is fairly common nowadays due to end-of-course test requirements in Virginia) but does finally graduate, that is a lot less cause for societal alarm than a kid who drops out.

    A focus on on-time graduation also emphasizes the wrong goal: getting through in four years versus getting through in the time it takes to demonstrate success.

  3. Good point, Renee. If the number of new LEP students is decreasing, and the youngest ones have another 5 – 12 years to get up to speed, it makes sense that that the number of LEP students at graduation would decrease also.

    From my own research (now years old data) I know that the rate of transfer is relatively high among the LEP students. I shot some footage in an ESL classroom, then sent a parental clearance form a few weeks later to get permission to use the footage I shot (admittedly, that’s backwards) and the LEP teacher said that several students had already moved on (presumably to other school systems).

    That’s also why the numbers for migrants are so low. If they’re truly migrants, they never intended to stick around here anyway.

    What I still don’t know is how it compares to past years, and if the students who transfer to other school systems are still counted.

  4. Barnabas says:

    Does LEP include illiterate whites and blacks, or is it only ESL students that are LEP?

  5. citydweller says:

    re jeremy: i have to beg to differ with your comment about it being fairly common for students to stay in high school for 5 years. i know of very few kids who are in high school for 5 years.

  6. hhsparent says:

    I’m curious about something. Once a student is classified as LEP, do they remain LEP during their time in the school system? For instance, would a 2nd grade LEP student still be classified as LEP once they were in the 8th grade even if they spoke and wrote English fluently?

  7. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    More common than it used to be, for sure.
    “Of the 98,043 students in the 2009 cohort, 81,587, or 83.2 percent, earned a Board of Education-approved diploma…1,210 students [from the 2008 cohort] returned for a fifth year of high school and earned diplomas.” – VDOE press release

  8. hhsparent: it’s a process to be unclassified as LEP. In the past, after a student tested as “fluent” (using several measures) they were put on monitored status for two years to make sure they were staying on-grade in English fluency. Then they were officially exited from LEP status. I’ve been out of ESL for a few years now but I think it’s still a similar system.

    Research indicates it takes 5-7 years for most students to achieve enough academic fluency to catch up with native-speaking peers.

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