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Graduation rates at city schools drop

Rally against poor performing schools, Buffalo's City Hall
WBFO News file photo by Michael Mroziak
Rally against poor performing schools, Buffalo's City Hall

By Howard Riedel

Buffalo, NY – The graduation rate in Buffalo public high schools fell below 50% last year, according to the latest figures released by the State Education Department.

The graduation rate for the school year ending June, 2010 was just over 47%, down six percent from the previous year.

Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said, "New York has some of the highest performing schools and districts in the country, but today's data makes clear that we have tremendous work to do to reduce the drop-out rate, close a stubbornly persistent racial achievement gap and ensure that more of our graduates are prepared for college and the workforce. This data underscores the urgency of our efforts to continue to raise standards, improve assessments, and support the highest quality teaching in all of our classrooms."

Statewide, the overall graduation rate rose from 72% to about 73.5%, and graduation rates rose in the other Big Five districts in the state.

Here is a full rundown of overall Graduation Rates provided by the New York State Department of Education:

Statewide, 73.4% of the students who started 9th grade in 2006 had graduated after 4 years, by June 2010. The previous year's graduation rate - for the 2005 cohort - was 71.8%; the rate for the 2001 cohort was 65.8%. The graduation rate is defined as the number of students in a cohort who earned a Regents or local diploma divided by the total number of students in that cohort.

Graduation rates for the state's Big 5 city school districts have increased overall during the past six years, and all except Buffalo improved over last year (but note: Buffalo's decrease was caused primarily by a change in its cohort size). Graduation rates in the Big 5 for the 2006 cohort are as follows:

Buffalo: 47.4% (down from 53.1% for the 2005 cohort)

New York City: 61% (up from 59% for the 2005 cohort)

Rochester: 46.1% (up from 42.1% for the 2005 cohort)

Syracuse: 45.9% (up from 45.2% for the 2005 cohort)

Yonkers: 63.2% (up from 58.1% for the 2005 cohort)

Education Commissioner David M. Steiner said, "While the state's overall graduation rate continues to slowly improve, too many of our students are graduating with only a local diploma. To help ensure that more students graduate high school prepared for the rigors of work and higher education, the Department will work closely with schools and districts to implement the Regents reform agenda - an agenda with the straightforward goal of closing the gap and lifting the level of achievement for all students."