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Richmond Public Schools (RPS) has both the lowest graduation rate and the highest dropout rate among school districts in the state of Virginia, Superintendent Jason Kamras said.

In the daily RPS direct newsletter for Wednesday, Kamras gave an update on the graduation and dropout rates from the 2019-20 academic year for the school districts high schools.

Included within Kamras’ online newsletter was data from a presentation given to the school board on Monday by RPS chief academic officer Tracy Epp.

“Our graduation rate remains the lowest in the Commonwealth, and our dropout rate remains the highest.” wrote Kamras, who has served as superintendent since 2018.

According to the data presented by Epp, the on-time graduation rate for the school division went up from 70.7 percent in 2018-19 to 71.6 percent in 2019-20, while the dropout rate decreased by 1.1 percentage points to 23.2 percent in the most recent academic year.

Despite the overall positive changes, the data also showed several negative trends for RPS, to which Kamras wrote were among his “gravest” concerns.

Huguenot High School registered a slight decrease (1.1 percent) in its on-time graduation rate, but George Wythe High School saw the biggest change with its on-time graduation rate plummeting by 10 percent between the 18-19 and 19-20 school years, bringing the overall rate to 50 percent.

George Wythe also experienced a large increase in its dropout rate at 12.2 percent for the 2019-20 academic year.

Specifically for RPS subgroups, on-time graduation rates for students identified as Hispanic/Latino (-7.0 percent), multi-racial (-7.7 percent) and English learners (-12.1 percent) all decreased. Additionally, the dropout rates for Hispanic/Latino (+7.3 percent) students and English learners (+13.3 percent) increased.

The data presentation did not include any details on how the spring school closures because of the coronavirus pandemic may have impacted the 2019-20 numbers.

In an effort to combat the aforementioned negative trends, RPS has launched three new programs over the past six months. Two of the programs are specifically designed for English learners, while the other is for people who dropped out of RPS schools in the past.

¡Con Ganas! is for English learners who are 17 and older, offering intensive language courses and academic support. The Newcomer Academy helps immigrant English learners who have been in the United States for up to one year.

A combined 237 students are currently enrolled in the two programs, according to Kamras.

The dropout program, named the Secondary Success Center, is available to any resident of Richmond City between the ages of 17 and 21.

Not all the data from the presentation was bad, however.

Thomas Jefferson, Armstrong and John Marshall high schools as well as Richmond Alternative School all experienced increases to graduation rates and decreases in dropout rates.

Also, graduation rates increased for students that are Black, economically disadvantaged and have disabilities.

“We still have a long, long way to go, but I truly believe that we are now on the right track,” Kamras wrote.

– – –

Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jason Kamras” by Richmond Public Schools.

News Source: tennesseestar.com

Tags: city of richmond education graduation rate richmond public schools

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Families Sue California, Say State Fails to Educate Poor, Minority Students Amid Pandemic

By Brendan O'Brien

(Reuters) - Families of 15 public school students sued California on Monday, claiming the state has failed to provide equal education to poor and minority children during the pandemic.

The impoverished students, who range from kindergarten to high school and were only identified by first name in court documents, were not provided devices and internet connections to attend online classes, according to the lawsuit, the first of its kind in the United States.

The children attend schools in Oakland and Los Angeles, and many were described as Blacks and Latinos. The lawsuit also claims that schools did not meet academic and mental health support needs, English language barriers and the unmet needs of homeless students.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, is asking the court to declare that California education officials have violated the state constitution's guarantee of educational equality and order them to fix the alleged inequities.

U.S. schools districts including those in California, the most populous state in the nation, closed school buildings and moved classes online in March as the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic surged. Since then, many districts, especially in urban areas, have struggled to meet the needs of students, especially disadvantaged students.

"The change in the delivery of education left many already-underserved students functionally unable to attend school. The State continues to refuse to step up and meet its constitutional obligation to ensure basic educational equality or indeed any education at all," the suit said.

The state's department of education did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

One of the lawyers for the families, Mark Rosenbaum, said the lawsuit was the first case in the nation against a state for failure to meet the educational needs of students during the pandemic.

A similar lawsuit was filed against the Los Angeles Unified School District in September, accusing the second-largest school district in the United States of failing to provide a basic education to Black and Latino students during the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; editing by Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

Tags: coronavirus, education, California

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