Lynchburg City Schools Celebrating Boost in Graduation Rates

Lynchburg, VA- Lynchburg school administrators say new graduation numbers show their student programs are truly working. The Department of Education reported this week that graduation rates in Lynchburg went up nearly 5 %.

As a school system, administrators say everyone is all coming to the table with ideas and programs to make sure all kids reach graduation.

Heritage High School Principal Tim Beatty says getting kids to graduation day is a team effort for Lynchburg City Schools. At Heritage, the team has a lot of players.

"Our administrative staff, our guidance coordinator, and our attendance coordinator we all work together. It's hard work by the kids as well," said Beatty.

The new graduation numbers are a huge victory for Heritage. The numbers are also helping them beat back the bad rap they had in the past.

"We were portrayed in a negative way as a dropout factory a few years ago," said Beatty.

The school's game plan to change this was to help student one-on-one.

"One thing they do is something called an enrichment period. If you have a C or below your teachers are required to call you in so it's like they are ensuring that you do well in class," said Tiani Pannell, a senior at Heritage High School.

If it takes a team to get these students to graduate, administrators say they try to make sure no one is left behind.

"If it's a dropout student we tried to get them back in school, try to help people with GEDs. We've done everything we can to best help people have a chance for success later in life," said Jason Jamerson, director of School Counseling at Heritage High School.

If graduation rates are a way to keep score, their plans are working. Last year, about 74 % of students graduated from Lynchburg City Schools. That is up from about 69 % in 2010.

"Our instructional strategies have improved, our attendance strategy has improved. We've done a better job of keeping track of students," said Beatty.

This data from the Department of Education does not include students who received special diplomas or GEDs. But it does show that graduation rates are also increasing among minorities, economically disadvantaged students, and students with disabilities.