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Buffalo Public Schools see greatest improvement in statewide graduation rates

Eileen Buckley

New York's high school graduation rate has improved slightly following the shift to remote learning and cancellation of Regents exams.

State education officials Thursday said the statewide graduation rate for the class of 2020 was 84.8%, up 1.4 percentage points from the previous year and 8 percentage points from a decade ago. The rate was for students who entered 9th grade in 2016.

“Our educators, school staff and families have come together to support our students throughout this pandemic,” said Interim Commissioner Betty Rosa. “Virtually overnight, teaching was transformed from in-person to remote instruction. The shift to remote learning highlighted a digital divide across the state that must be addressed to give all students a level playing field and we remain focused on educational equity for all students.”

Among city schools, Buffalo reported the greatest improvement, posting a 76.3% graduation rate, up nearly 12 percentage points over the class of 2019. New York City's rate improved to 78.8%. Syracuse, Rochester and Yonkers also reported higher graduation rates than the previous year.

The rates for English language learners and students with disabilities also improved.

Credit New York State Education Department
Graduation rates for New York's Big 5 school districts.

There still remains a gap in the graduation rates Black and Hispanic students compared to white students.

"In the past five years (since the 2012 cohort), the graduation rate gap has narrowed by 5.5 percentage points for Black students and 4.5 percentage points for Hispanic/Latino students, when compared with the state’s White students," the department said. "In the past 10 years (since the 2007 cohort), the gap has narrowed by over nine percentage points for Black and Hispanic/Latino students respectively when compared to their White peers. Statewide, Black and Hispanic/Latino students each improved their graduation rates by just over two percentage points this year, seeing the greatest growth of any race/ethnicity group."

Buffalo has the highest achievement gap among Hispanic students compared to white students, at 15.7 percentage points.

Female students also continue to graduate "at a significantly higher rate than their male peers," at 88.6% females compared to 81.3% for males. The department said that is an improvement of 1.6 percentage points for females over last year and 1.4 percentage points for males.

Statewide, the drop-out rate is 6.1%, down 1 percentage point from last year. However, in Buffalo, the rate went up 2.7 percentage points.

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