RCSD graduation rate lowest among Big 5 cities in state

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The New York State Education Department released their graduation rates for the Big 5 cities with Rochester showing the lowest rate among New York City, Buffalo, Yonkers, and Syracuse.

There was only a 2% increase from students who entered high school as freshman in 2011 compared to 2012, for the Rochester City School District.

The growth rate was ahead of the statewide average, but still behind the other large cities.

Syracuse experienced the largest growth over the course of a year at over 6%.

Rochester City School District Superintendent, Barbara Deane-Williams, responded to the rates with the following statement:

Rochester’s four-year graduation rate was 47.5% in June and 53% in August, both up 2% from 2015, according to data released today by the New York State Education Department. The graduation rate increased 5.1% for Hispanic students and 1.8% for Black students compared to the previous year. For students with disabilities, the June graduation is up 1% from last year at 27.4%, continuing a five-year improvement trend from 16.4% in 2012.

These modest increases offer signs of encouragement, but we cannot hide the fact that too few of our children are crossing the stage, and Rochester graduation rates have remained unacceptably low for entirely too long. Equity demands that we take immediate action to provide our schools the necessary resources to accelerate progress until we achieve a 100 percent graduation rate.

This year we have developed new data tools that make it easier for school administrators to track student progress in real time. That supports our goal to help school teams know every student by face and name, assess their achievement every five weeks and customize the support each student receives to help them stay on track.

To make the District office more effective in supporting school improvement, we have established four teams of educators—called Teaching and Learning School Partnership and Support Teams—with a goal to visit every classroom in every school during the second semester. Their role is to learn about bright spots that can serve as models for other schools and classrooms, and to identify ways in which Central Office can provide better support. The teams will strengthen partnerships between Principals, teachers and District office. For example, the team serving secondary schools will provide counseling services to help review transcripts and monitor student progress toward on-time graduation. 

These are two of the many steps we intend to take that have helped other high-poverty districts across the country to create higher-performing schools. Working in collaboration with our staff members, families and community partners, our District is committed to providing the support each student needs to succeed at every grade level, to and through graduation.

The New York State School Boards Association, NYSSBA, also released a statement after the graduation rates were announced: 

NYSSBA is encouraged that overall graduation rates across the state continue to climb. However, we are deeply concerned that graduation gaps among students of color, English language learners, and students in poorer districts continue to persist. These gaps lend support to our belief that the state needs to provide adequate state aid, especially to those districts that are less wealthy and have greater numbers of students for whom English is not their primary language. NYSSBA calls for an additional $2 billion overall in the 2017-18 state budget, including $1.4 billion in foundation aid.

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