The four-year graduation rate for the Rochester school district dropped by one point, according to the New York State Education Department. The SED has released its Report Cards for districts throughout the state, and out of Rochester’s 2007 cohort of 2,868 students, 50 percent graduated in 2012, down from 51 percent from the prior school year.
African American students had a 49 percent graduation rate, while the rate was 48 percent for Latino students and 62 percent for white students. Buffalo’s graduation rate, in comparison, was 56 percent. The state's goal is 80 percent.
The new graduation rate probably won’t surprise many parents, residents, and community leaders, since it has hovered around 50 percent for several years. But school officials point out that the grade rate has remained fairly steady as students adjusted to higher standards. Local diplomas are being phased out, and students will have to pass five Regents exams to receive a Regents diploma and graduate next year.
School officials also point to the five-year graduation rate of 56 percent as an indicator that progress is possible when students have more time.
The more rigorous standards will continue as districts around the state implement a tougher curriculum called the Common Core. Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has repeatedly stated that he expects the district’s test scores and grad rates to get worse before a strong turnaround can be expected.
At a special board meeting last night to review Vargas’s proposed budget for the 2013 to 2014 school year, Vargas told board members it could be four more years before the district begins seeing steady improvements in the graduation rates.