Ny Graduation Rate Inches Up

06.24.14 | Sarah Harnisch

Three out of four New York high-school students graduated on-time last year, but a large gap in graduation rate continues to exist between white students and black or Hispanic students, according to data released Monday by the state Education Department.

Last year, 74.9 percent of public-school students graduated within four years, a slight increase from 74 percent in each of the previous two years. The state data tracks graduation rates for students who entered ninth grade in 2009 and finished by June 2013.

But when separated by race and ethnicity, the results differed greatly. A total of 86.5 percent of white students received a diploma, compared to 59.2 percent of Hispanic students and 59.7 percent of black students.

“The good news is today’s graduation rates show slight progress in the percentage of students graduating statewide, and that rate has been trending upward,” said Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association. “The bad news is that we continue to see persistent achievement gaps based on race and ethnicity, as well as school district wealth.”

Among the state’s largest cities, the New York City, Buffalo and Yonkers school systems all saw increases, with Buffalo jumping to 53.4 percent from 46.8 percent the previous year. Yonkers went from 66 percent to 66.4 percent, while New York City increased from 60.4 percent to 61.3 percent.

Rochester, meanwhile, saw its rate drop from 43.4 percent to 43 percent.

“One in four students still aren’t graduating after four years,” state Education Commissioner John King said in a statement. “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.”

The gap was significant between wealthy and poorer school districts, according to the data.

In districts classified as “low need,” the graduation rate was 94 percent. In “high need,” mostly urban districts, the rate was 65.9 percent.