Hundreds Of Richmond Seniors At Risk Of Not Graduating On Time | Community Idea Stations

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Hundreds Of Richmond Seniors At Risk Of Not Graduating On Time

BY BRIANNA SCOTT, WCVE Intern

An ongoing transcript audit is impacting the number of Richmond seniors likely to graduate this June. Senior transcripts have been reviewed at least eight times, each round surfacing new issues.

The transcript audit detailed multiple issues affecting all grade levels such as duplicate course scheduling, missing credits or courses, and a lack of systems to consistently communicate data. Last November, Virginia’s state department of education gave Richmond Public Schools an April deadline to correct all GPA-related issues on senior transcripts.

“Time's up and we've got to get this right,” said school board member Kenya Gibson. She’s upset so many students have been negatively impacted by the process.

The district has identified over 300 seniors who are at risk of not graduating in June. The district says that means they’re still likely to graduate but may be one test score away from meeting graduation requirements. Another 280 students aren’t likely to graduate until later in the summer, or next school year.

The most common factor impacting graduation rates this year is a lack of verified course credits. Students earn verified credits by passing an SOL exam or by qualifying for locally-awarded verified credits (LAVC). To earn a LAVC, students must demonstrate comprehension of a subject by other mechanisms other than testing before receiving the credit.

The district discovered students were being awarded these credits automatically. They said they’ll be ending practices that boosted graduation rates in the past, such as this one, by reviewing how students receive credit.

Chief Academic Officer Tracy Epp says it’ll take more time and resources to address the underlying systemic problems that led to incorrect transcripts in the first place.

“Historically, we have had one specialist for all of the counseling. We need five just to tackle this high school thing,” Epp said. “We are working to change that with some of our positions. But our schools do need more support and guidance on this--we have not provided that to them.”

School board member Cheryl Burke raised questions during the meeting Monday night about how this issue could be prevented next spring. Burke stressed that professional development could play a role in helping teachers and counselors better communicate with parents and students what graduation requirements are.

The district says affected students have individual action plans with correctly scheduled courses, SOL remediation and summer school.