Roanoke, VA - While the national graduation rate has hit a historic high of 80% it is a figure that does not paint the whole picture that leaves some students on the sidelines.According to state guidelines, when Dr. Rita Bishop took over the Roanoke City Schools the graduation rate was a paltry 59%. Five years later, she has the district over 80%.By the way the feds determine graduation rates, a formula that does not include special needs or extended education diplomas, Roanoke's rate comes in at 72%."I've always found it humorous that the feds spend a lot of time talking about special education but they won't count the diplomas," said Bishop. Regardless how the scores are tabulated in the big picture of this story the fact remains that the US graduation rate is steadily climbing which indicates to veteran administrators, like Dr. Bishop, that the system is adapting to a new world."I think the whole country has accepted the fact that we are no longer a country that can go to work in a steel mill and have an average life with or without a high school diploma. Those jobs don't exist," said Bishop. Which reinforces Dr. Bishop's notion that no matter how the rate is calculated, in the end, it comes down to one thing."I do it the other way. I subtract from a hundred and I factor how many students may not have a very good life if we can't deliver," said Bishop.The latest federal numbers are calculated from 2012 information. Dr. Bishop said current early numbers being worked on suggest Roanoke's 2014 graduation rate will surge again, possibly hitting the 80% graduation rate as determined by federal guidelines.
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