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NM high school graduation rate at 73 percent

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More high school seniors in the state turned their tassels this year than ever before, outgoing Gov. Susana Martinez announced Friday.

In her announcement, she said the 2018 class’ graduation rate was 73 percent, touting it as an all-time high and a 10 percentage point jump since 2011 when she took office.

The 2018 rate translates to approximately 19,000 students, who graduated within a four-year cohort, out of roughly 26,000 students.

New Mexico saw a slight uptick – two percentage points – in its 2018 graduation rate compared to the year prior.

That represents about 450 more kids graduating in the class of 2018 compared to 2017’s class.

Still, the state lags behind the national average.

The National Center for Education Statistics 2015-2016 data puts the national average at 84 percent.

State Public Education Department Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski told the Journal he’s critical of national comparisons, as each state has different graduation requirements.

“Some other states simply require kids to show up and take classes,” he said, adding New Mexican students have to demonstrate competency.

He credits this year’s grad rate uptick to an investment into advanced placement and dual credit programs as well as a focus on “meaningful assessment.”

Ruszkowski said the foundation of the Martinez administration’s work in education has functioned on the principle that when expectations are high students will work to meet them. He said the state has upped the rigor in high school graduation requirements and academic assessments multiple times.

“New Mexico’s students continue to rise to the occasion, and today’s announcement is a testament to the potential that each and every student possesses,” Martinez said in a statement. “Our children are better prepared to enter the workforce, college and beyond. We must stay committed to high standards and meaningful reforms that are having some of the greatest positive impacts we’ve ever seen for New Mexico’s children.”

District- and school-specific data is expected in February.