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Buffalo's high school graduation rates increase slightly

High school graduation rates are showing a slight improvement across the state, but still remain too low for students to be competitive.  That is according to the New York State Education Department that released rates Monday. 

"New York’s overall graduation rate has improved, but nearly a quarter of our students still don’t graduate after four years," said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch. "And too many of those students who do graduate aren’t ready for college and careers. "These numbers make clear that we need to continue to pursue aggressive reforms in our schools including a new, richer curriculum and implementation of the new teacher evaluation law in districts across the state."

But Buffalo's four year graduation rate did show an improvement , now at 54% percent in 2011.  Buffalo's rate took several steps back from a commencement academy that was in place for only a year in 2005.  That is when one-thousand 9th graders --struggling with academics were held back, causing a decline in the graduation rate in 2010. 

But the newest graduation rates put Buffalo ahead of Rochester and Syracuse by a few percentage points.

The Buffalo Public School District issued the following statement:

"The Buffalo Public School district is pleased to have made a 6.6 percentage point increase in graduating seniors between 2010 and 2011, but acknowledges there is still far to go.

According to NYSED data the graduation rate for the BPS 2007 cohort of students as of June 2011 (4-year graduates) was 54.0%, an increase of 6.6% over June of 2010.  The district is held accountable under NYS accountability guidelines for the August 2011 rate. 

Similarly, comparing the graduation rate with the Regents' Aspirational Performance Measures (APMs), 9.5% of the 2007 Cohort graduated with a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation as compared to 3.2% of the 2006 Cohort, an increase of more than 6%. In relation to the APM targets for ELA and math, there was a 10.9% performance in comparison to the 8.1% of the previous Cohort 2006 cohort.  

The district has taken the initiative through successfully increasing attendance in the 2011-2012 school year through programs, incentives and the hiring of attendance personnel at Persistently Lowest Performing (PLA) schools in order to increase both attendance and graduation numbers in the future."

The following outline the Overall Graduation Rates issued by the NYSED:

Statewide, 74% of the students who started 9th grade in 2007 had graduated after four years, by June 2011. The previous year’s graduation rate – for the 2006 cohort – was 73.4%; the rate for the 2003 cohort was 69.3%. 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 generally increased over the past five years. Graduation rates in the Big 5 for the 2007 cohort are as follows:
•Buffalo: 54% (47.4% for the 2006 cohort; see slide 23 for details about changes in Buffalo’s cohort size and the impact those changes had on the district’s graduation rates)
•New York City: 60.9% (61% for the 2006 cohort)
•Rochester: 45.5% (46.1% for the 2006 cohort)
•Syracuse: 48.4% (45.9% for the 2006 cohort)
•Yonkers: 66.2% (63.2% for the 2006 cohort)

The overall graduation rate for black students rose over the previous year, from 57.7% to 58.4%. Similarly, the rate for Hispanic students rose from 57.3% last year to 58% this year. A large gap in the graduation rate between black and Hispanic students – as compared with white students – persists. The difference in graduation rates for black and white students declined from 28 percentage points for the 2004 cohort to 27 points for the 2007 cohort. For Hispanic students, the gap narrowed from a 30 percentage point difference for the 2004 cohort to a 27 point difference for the 2007 cohort. As a percentage of the cohort, more black and Hispanic students than white students earn Local Diplomas.

A report detailing these results and others – including individual school and district graduation rates for the 2007 cohort and graduation rates for the various Need/Resource Categories of school districts (i.e., high-need urban-suburban, rural, average wealth, and low-need); students with disabilities; charter schools; English language learners; students who graduate after a fifth or sixth year; and for males/ females – is available at this web address:http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/press.html.

The data demonstrate that persistence pays off for students who retake Regents exams in August and take advantage of credit recovery. The graduation rate for the state and for the Big 5 city school districts significantly improves when August data are included. For example New York City’s graduation rate for August 2011 was 65.5% as compared with 60.9% through June. Statewide, 76.8% of the students who started 9th grade in 2007 had graduated after four years, by August 2011 (as compared with 74% through June).