Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal
Graduation rates declined at all but one of Albuquerque Public Schools’ 13 traditional high schools, with four of them dropping by more than 10 points, new data released by the state shows.
Only Valley High School was able to raise its graduation rate – moving up 0.6 percentage points from 70.9 percent to 71.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Cibola, Highland, Manzano and Rio Grande high schools saw double-digit drops. Two of those schools, Highland and Rio Grande, saw their graduation rates jump by about 10 percentage points in 2013.
APS interim Superintendent Brad Winter said the district administration is taking a look at the new graduation numbers to see what might have contributed to the drop. He noted the district received the new graduation data Friday afternoon.
“What we’re going to do is really analyze the data,” he said.
Winter said reducing truancy is a major focus for the district and said graduation rates should improve if the district can make inroads into chronic absenteeism by students.
According to state data, the district’s overall graduation rate dropped 6.2 percentage points – from 68.7 percent in 2013 to 62.5 percent in 2014.
APS also calculates its own graduation rate by excluding district-authorized charter schools because it doesn’t oversee their curriculum. In 2014, the APS-calculated graduation rate was 67.1 percent compared with 73.3 percent in 2013, a drop of 6.2 percentage points.
New Mexico’s overall graduation rate was 68.5 percent in 2014, compared with 70 percent in 2013.
Like Winter, Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera pointed to high truancy rates as a reason for the drop in graduation rates.
“Bottom line, one of the biggest things is the truancy rates and they have increased,” she said Monday.
During the last school year, 16 percent of New Mexico students – 48,000 kids – were habitually truant, meaning they missed 10 days of school, and 24 percent of seniors were habitually truant, Skandera said.
She also said graduation rates are still up compared with four years ago. The state rate in 2011 was 63 percent, which means it has gone up 5.5 percentage points.
APS’ graduation rate in 2011 was 63.4 percent, which means it is down .9 percentage points from 2011.
Rio Rancho’s graduation rates continue to stay well above the state average.
The overall district graduation rate held at about 84 percent. Rio Rancho High’s rate increased after falling in 2013. The percentage of students graduating in 2014 jumped from 80 percent to almost 84 percent, which is near its highest rate in 2012.
Cleveland High School fell from 91 percent to 90 percent but the biggest dip was at Independence High. The school serves students who are struggling academically or have special circumstances, such as having a child. The rate there was 50 percent in 2013 but dropped to 33.7 percent.
Journal staff writer Elaine Briseño contributed to this report.