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Buffalo schools again show gains in graduation rate

Buffalo graduated 64 percent of its students from the Class of 2016, at least the second straight year the school district showed some progress in getting more kids to earn their high school diplomas.

That's up from 61 percent the prior year.

The state Education Department on Friday released the new figures, which represent the percentage of students who graduated in August after four years of high school. August is still considered "on time" by the state.

The district, which has focused on making a number of reforms, has set the goal of reaching a 70 percent graduation rate by 2019.

Statewide, the graduation rate increased to 81 percent, up from 79 percent the previous year.

 

The State Education Department pointed out that all Big 5 school districts - Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, New York City and Yonkers - saw their graduation rates between 2015 and 2016 increase beyond the statewide average. However, their overall graduation rates still remain below average across New York.

"While the upward trend in New York State’s graduation rates continues, there is still much work to do," said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. "The Regents and I are committed to providing the resources and support to schools statewide to prepare students for the next phase in their lives."

The new data also shows the achievement gap still persists among racial lines.

In Buffalo, the graduation rate for white students was 71 percent. That's compared to 64 percent for both African-American and Asian students and 54 percent for Hispanics.

"While the state’s overall graduation rate went up slightly, we must find more effective ways to address the achievement gaps that continue to impact far too many of our children - particularly those students for whom English is not their first language," said Betty A. Rosa, chancellor of the state Board of Regents.

In Buffalo, the graduation rate was 26 percent for students who were considered "limited English proficient."

As for individual high schools in Buffalo, City Honors once again held the highest rate with 98 percent of students finishing on time.

Results at other schools were a mixed bag. Of 17 high schools in the district, 10 saw their rate increase, 6 dropped and one saw no change.

The biggest gains were at International Prep, which saw its graduation rate increase by 10 percentage points. The Buffalo Academy of the Visual and Performing Arts also saw a noticeable bump, with the percentage of students finishing on time increasing by 9 percentage points.

Among suburban districts in Erie County, East Aurora and Iroquois tied for the top spot, each graduating 99 percent of the cohort. Lackawanna fell at the bottom of the pack, posting a rate of 73 percent.

The most significant gains in the suburbs were in West Seneca, where each of the high schools improved their rate. West Seneca East improved its graduation rate by 7 percentage points and West Seneca West by 5 points.

 

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