Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 24, 2014

No surprises locally with graduation rates as state average rises

Niagara Gazette — BUFFALO — New York's high school graduation rate rose slightly to 74.9 percent in 2013, but big differences persisted in the numbers for white and minority students and relatively few graduates earned advanced diplomas considered a measure of college readiness, according to data released by the state Monday.

Locally, Niagara Falls was well below the state average for public schools at 63.1 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lewiston-Porter was 90.9 percent, Niagara-Wheatfield was 90 percent and Starpoint was 92.5 percent. At the Wilson School District 80 percent earned a high-school diploma

In districts with large numbers of low-income families, the 2013 graduation rate was 66 percent, compared with 94 percent for students in more affluent districts.

The June 2012 graduation rate was 74 percent.

Education Commissioner John King Jr. said the numbers "reinforce the urgency" of implementing the more rigorous Common Core Learning Standards that some critics say have been rushed into New York classrooms with poor results. The standards define what students should know in each grade in order to graduate ready for college.

"One in four students still aren't graduating after four years," King said, "and far too many students, even if they graduate from high school, still haven't completed the advanced and rigorous course work to be ready for college or the workplace."

Similar gaps were seen in the percentage of white graduates and their black and Hispanic peers. The gaps were even larger when looking at those attaining advanced diplomas, which require passing grades on eight Regents exams.

Overall, 31 percent of those who entered high school in 2009 received a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation.

"Unfortunately, achievement gaps for minority students are not abating, especially when it comes to advanced designation diplomas," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said. "There's clearly a lack of equity in access in the course offerings necessary for the advanced designation."

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