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By PAMELA GOULD
Roughly one of every 10 students who entered high school in Fredericksburg and Caroline County four years ago failed to graduate, according to data released Tuesday by the Virginia Department of Education.
Both school divisions saw a slight increase in their dropout rates from 2011. But numbers were better than rates recorded two years ago, according to state figures.
Fredericksburg Superintendent David Melton said that numbers the state released Tuesday are preliminary and that he just sent updated numbers to the state that he expects will improve both the dropout and graduation rates for his division.
Fredericksburg recorded a 9.8 percent dropout rate this year compared with a 9.6 percent rate for 2011 and a 13.5 percent rate for 2010.
"This is not a competition," Melton said in response to having the second-highest dropout rate and lowest on-time-graduation rate among the region's 10 school divisions.
Melton said the city division is doing the same things it has been doing for the past few years: utilizing a drop-out-prevention and on-time-graduation task force, putting goals into the comprehensive plan, providing counseling for students, and seeking early identification of students at risk of not graduating.
Caroline recorded a 10.5 percent dropout rate for this year--a 0.5 percent increase over last year but less than its 11.1 percent rate in 2010. Caroline officials could not be reached for comment.
The state released dropout and on-time-graduation rate figures on Tuesday. Statewide the dropout rate for this year was 6.5 percent, down from 7.2 percent in 2011.
Orange County had the lowest dropout rate in the Fredericksburg region at 2.6 percent.
Culpeper and Westmoreland county school divisions were the only ones in the region to see an improvement in their dropout rates.
Culpeper's rate dropped from 6.1 percent in 2011 to 3.7 percent this year.
Westmoreland saw the biggest improvement in the region, dropping from 14.3 percent in 2011 to 6.1 percent this year.
Westmoreland also saw the biggest improvement in on-time graduation. The rate jumped by 13.6 points, from 75.5 percent in 2011 to 89.1 percent this year.
Westmoreland's improvement bested the statewide on-time-graduation rate of 88 percent. Westmoreland officials could not be reached for comment.
On-time-graduation rates reflect the percentage of students who graduate within four years of entering.