BY JOE OLENICK email@example.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Local schools have graduation rates higher than the rest of the state, according to figures released by the state education department.
The department reported that 74 percent of all students across the state who entered high school in 2008 graduated with a Regents or local diploma in June 2012. That was relatively the same from the previous year’s graduation rate.
That was in spite of increased rigor in graduation requirements, state education officials said. But there is still work to be done, New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said.
The state is trying to implement the Common Core standards, which officials claim will improve the number of students who are ready for college or the workforce. The ninth graders who enter high school in September will be the first cohort required to receive Common Core instruction throughout high school and the first required to take Regents exams that reflect the Common Core.
“Despite all the naysayers, raising standards was the right thing to do. Our teachers and students rose to the challenge. Now it’s time to rise to the next challenge,” Tisch said. “The rates may be stable even with the increased rigor, but stable doesn’t equal success. This is an on-going tragedy. Tens of thousands of students are still leaving high school with no diploma and fewer options for the future.”
Locally, each of the six public high schools in Eastern Niagara County surpassed the state average with its 2012 graduation rate. Lockport High School saw 83.4 percent of its 422 students who entered the school in the fall of 2008, which the state calls the cohort of 2008, graduate in June 2012. About 39.1 percent earned an advanced Regents diploma.
Only 2.6 percent dropped out, which has been an area targeted for improvement by the district in recent years. Principal Frank Movalli said in order to catch the dropouts, a philosophical change had to take place.
”In the past, we’d drop kids when they stopped showing up to school, now we keep them for up to six years,” Movalli said. “We keep in touch, instead of just dropping them.”
It might take longer, but more students are earning diplomas, Movalli said. About 7.8 percent of the 2012 class were still enrolled in school, the state said. Another 1 percent graduated in August 2012.
Lockport also uses credit recovery, which allows a student to retake an exam they failed instead of retaking an entire class. There are also online courses students can take to earn the credit they need, but those courses are only available on the school’s computers in the library. That’s so teachers can monitor the students.
Barker saw 93.9 percent of its 82 kids in the 2008 cohort graduate in June 2012. Roughly 51.2 percent graduated with an advanced Regents diploma. Just under 5 percent are still enrolled.
The state reported that 87.5 percent of 158 Newfane students graduated last June. About 31.6 percent earned an advanced Regents diploma, while 47.5 percent earned a standard Regents diploma. Less than a percent, about .6, dropped out of school in the 2008 cohort. Twelve percent are still enrolled, the state said.
Royalton-Hartland saw 78.9 percent of the 128 kids in the 2012 class graduate, which featured 25.8 percent earning an advanced Regents diploma and 49.2 percent earning a standard Regents diploma. The district’s dropout rate increased to 10.2 percent, however.
About 85.9 percent of Starpoint’s 2012 class graduated, a cohort of 248 kids, 38.7 percent with an advanced Regents. Only 4.8 percent dropped out of school.
Roughly 85.2 percent of the 115 Wilson students in the 2008 cohort graduated with a diploma in June 2012. About 9.6 percent dropped out, while 37.4 percent graduated with an advanced Regents diploma.
Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.