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NM high school graduation rates increase

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that interrupted the 2019-2020 school year, forcing students to work online from home, the four-year statewide high school graduation rate ticked up 2% for the cohort of spring 2020 graduates.

Of the 25,995 students who entered high school in 2016 for one or more semesters, 76.9% of them graduated in 2020.

That’s up from the 74.9% who graduated in 2019, which was an improvement from the 71.1% who graduated the year before that, according to a report released Friday by the state Public Education Department.

“This achievement amid an unprecedented upheaval in the education system is a true testament to the hard work of students who were determined to graduate and educators who were determined to get them across the line,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said.

The 2020 graduation rate jumps to 78.3% when counting those students who took five years to get their diploma, the report says.

While New Mexico’s four-year graduation rate is on an upward trajectory, it still lags about 8 percentage points behind the national average of 85%, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Of the 10 largest school districts in New Mexico, the highest four-year graduation rates were Rio Rancho, 88.3%; Santa Fe, 86.3%; and Las Cruces, 86.2%.

“Rio Rancho Public Schools works so diligently to ignite student potential and keep our graduation rates high,” Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent V. Sue Cleveland said.

“While numbers are not the most important thing, it is truly about helping our students excel and move towards a future filled with growth and amazing opportunities,” Cleveland said. “We are so proud of the hard work done by our students and staff.”

Veronica Garcia, superintendent of the Santa Fe Public Schools, said she “couldn’t be prouder of everyone’s efforts,” which resulted in a graduation rate increase of 9 percentage points over the previous year.

“I think we’re going to continue to see this level of success,” she said.

Rounding out the top 10 school districts and their graduation rates are: Hobbs Municipal Schools, 85.4%; Alamogordo Public Schools, 80.5%; Farmington Municipal Schools, 77.4%; Albuquerque Public Schools, 74.6%; Roswell Independent Schools, 71.8%; Carlsbad Municipal Schools, 71%; and Clovis Municipal Schools, 70.4%.

Journal staff writer Kyle Land contributed to this report.

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