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Buffalo's graduation rate rises

WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Public School District has reason to celebrate. New numbers released Monday by the New York State Department of Education indicate an increase in the district’s 2015 graduation rate

Buffalo's high school graduation is showing new promise for the district. Newly released numbers from the State Education Department indicate the rate rose to 58-percent for 2015 from 53-percent in 2014.

"I think we are very excited, but we are also cautiously optimistic," stated Genelle Morris, Chief Accountability Officer for the city school district.  In the past three years the Buffalo rate has risen over ten-percentage points.   
"Cumulatively since 2012-13 it has gone up. It's a 5.6-percentage points increase," noted Morris.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash offered Morris to respond to our questions about the new rates. But she noted he is 'very excited' with the increase that reflects on the work of the city school students.

"We start to dig through it," said Morris. "We're able to use that information o help shape our outcomes of our students who are with us now and form future decisions, such as different programs we want to bring to the district to increase this number."

Morris said Cash will go into detail about the data and what's working at Wednesday night's school board meeting.
For now Morris tells WBFO News -- they work to review this data to make sure it reflects that status of their students.

"I think it is exciting for the young people and it is exciting for Buffalo," said David Rust, Executive Director, Say Yes Buffalo. The organization works closely with the city district to provide free college tuition scholarships for all Buffalo Public and city charter school students.

Say Yes Buffalo Executive Director David Rust said he didn't expect the gains this quickly. 

"This is certainly encouraging news to see a graduation rate spike this much," noted Rust. "I'm proud of the adults in our city that are choosing to do this hard work."

Rust is not taking credit for the hike in rates, instead he said he gives full credit to all the adults helping the public school students.

"I also give the credit to the partners who are providing wrap around supports.  Rust also gives credit to the Buffalo business community that is funding the Say Yes scholarship. 
Buffalo's rates also rose for Black and Hispanic students. That mirrors the data that we have with our Say Yes scholarship. That's what you want. That's healthy. Ever population is improving," replied Rust.

The District's graduation rate is even higher when you add the number of students who received their diploma in August. It jumps to 61-percent.

"But we always give them an opportunity, as need be, to come in the summer to take summer school," responded Morris. "They still consider the August participation, if they want to summer school, an on-time graduation."

Across the board, the graduation rate rose among the various categories. It increased for male and females, as well as Black and Hispanic students. 

"The more graduates we have of our public schools, the better it is for our local economy," Rust explained.

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