Nonetheless, the superintendent is hopeful the district is still on track to reach its goal of a 70 percent graduation rate by 2019, as things start to align over the next couple of years, including some policy changes at the state level and the addition of several new innovative high schools that have been phased in.
Roughly half the high schools in the area saw graduation rates rise from the previous year, including Grand Island, Williamsville East, Eden, Sweet Home, Maryvale and Cleveland Hill, according to new figures released Wednesday.
The rates published by state officials Wednesday, however, suggest a deeper drop than Spring expected in June, when he said the high school graduation rate would likely hover above 60 percent. "And that's good news", Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said.
"Yonkers is one of our most - if not our most - active My Brother's Keeper (districts)", Elia said.
While dropout rates did fall across the board - none by more than 1% - the racial disparities seen in graduation rates were mirrored here as well.
The Lewiston School District recorded a 95.4 percent rate, the highest among larger districts with cohort sizes exceeding 300 students.
This gap has narrowed in recent years, but still remains around 20 percentage points.
Inside a Buffalo school classroom. Credit WBFO News file
For other districts around Westchester County - where the county-wide graduation rate was 88 percent this year, up slightly from 87 percent in 2016 - the results were mixed. Last year, the Legislature approved increased funding for college and career advising and the State Board has requested an additional $5 million this year to expand those efforts to freshmen and sophomore students. County schools continued to struggle with Hispanic or Latino graduation rates, which remained the same at 64 percent; though the dropout rate for Hispanic or Latino students decreased from 22 percent in 2016 to 18 percent in 2017. Buffalo has lots of students in all three categories.
There also remains a stark difference in the graduation rates between students' economic background both in Chautauqua County and throughout NY state. Black and Hispanic students dropped out at a rate of 7.9% and 10.7%, respectively, while White and Asian students dropped out at rates of 4% and 4.4%.
"Some of those students may be ELLs, they may be students with disabilities - our work now just begins to look at those kids and see what they need", she said. But Asian and black students saw the highest gains in graduation rates over past year.
The dropout rate was 12 percent for economically disadvantaged students compared to 4 percent for students who aren't economically disadvantaged.
The mayor said the city's rising grad rates prove the public schools are better than ever.
The West Ada School District, Idaho's largest district, has a 84.7 percent graduation.
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