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Report: APS Grad Rates Falling

By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
       Albuquerque Public Schools graduation rates appear to be declining, bucking a trend of national improvement, according to a report released this week.
    APS ranked 45th out of 50 large city school districts in a study of 10-year graduation rates. APS fell from a rate of 55.6 percent in 1995 to 49 percent in 2005, the study said.
    The district's own numbers show a 52.6 percent graduation rate in 2005, tumbling to 44 percent the next year.
    The study, "Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap" was prepared for America's Promise Alliance. The study showed that about 53 percent of students in the study nationwide graduated from school on time in 2005.
    Rose-Ann McKernan, executive director of APS Research, Data and Accountability, agrees that APS is showing a drop in four-year graduation rates, but thinks it's because students are taking longer to graduate.
    "Our retention has increased," McKernan said. "We see more kids enrolled for a fifth year, and we have other alternatives for students to pursue, like our charter schools."
    She said the APS data differ from the study because the district tracks individual students from ninth grade to graduation to come up with its rate, whereas the study used enrollment trends from grade to grade.
    APS school board President Marty Esquivel said the way graduation rates are counted is "just extremely misleading," because it doesn't account for transfers who graduate from other districts or from private or charter schools, which are more plentiful in large cities.
    He said the district's goal of improving graduation rates is "moving in the right direction."





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