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PED reports slight increase in graduation rates in NM

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Newly released data shows an uptick for New Mexico’s four-year high school graduation rate, though the national average continues to tower over the state.

The state Public Education Department released 2018-19 graduation figures this week, which show the statewide graduation rate was 74.9%.

That’s up a percentage point from the year prior, which was also an improvement compared with 71.1% in 2016-2017.

But the latest graduation rate is about 10 percentage points behind the national average.

“While the fact that the graduation rate increased is undoubtedly a positive, we know we have significantly more to do to reach and surpass the national average of 85.3%,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a statement.

The PED touted gains for some student populations, including improvements among English language learners and Native American students.

“The rate was 73.3% for ELL students, up 2.2% from 2018. The Native American graduation rate improved 3.8% to 69.6%,” the department reported in a news release.

The state’s largest school district, Albuquerque Public Schools, saw a graduation rate of 70.1% for the class of 2019 – a rate that includes charter schools.

Rio Rancho Public Schools said its 2019 graduation rate was the highest in district history at 89%, maintaining the trend of being consistently above the state average.

APS remains behind the state average, though its latest graduation rate improved by half a percentage point from the year prior.

“Without charter schools, the 2019 graduation rate for APS increased by nearly a percentage point in a year to 73.7%, the district’s highest graduation rate in more than a decade,” APS officials wrote in a news release.

According to information from the district, nine of the district’s 13 comprehensive high schools improved their graduation rates from 2018. For instance, Valley High School jumped by 5.2 percentage points to 72.8%.

Three of the eight magnet high schools showed upticks, too.

However, there were some schools with notable declines. NexGen Academy High Magnet School fell 7.5 percentage points and School on Wheels Magnet School had a similar drop.

Graduation rates for African-American students dropped from 63.4% in 2018 to 59.3% in 2019.

Rates for special education students dipped 2.4 percentage points.

Four demographic groups, including Native American students and Hispanic students, saw graduation rates increase.

“When we look at graduation rates, we need to look at trends, and I am happy to see we are trending upwards because that means more students are graduating,” APS Superintendent Raquel Reedy said in a statement.

“Our goal, of course, is to keep this trend going so that more and more of our students earn their high school diploma,” she said. “I am convinced that even after I retire, the district will continue on this positive trajectory.”

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