New York graduation rate rose 1.4% during pandemic

New York News

FILE – In this June 27, 2020, file photo, Saltillo High School seniors make their way to the football field as the sun begins to set for their graduation ceremony in Saltillo, Miss. The number of high school seniors applying for U.S. federal college aid plunged in the weeks following the sudden closure of school buildings this spring — a time when students were cut off from school counselors, and families hit with financial setbacks were reconsidering plans for higher education. (Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The statewide graduation rate has increased, according to the New York State Education Department (NYSED). It released 2016 cohort high school graduation rates, based on the class of 2020—students who first entered ninth grade in New York’s public schools in 2016.

NYSED found that the overall August graduation rate increased to 84.8%, an increase of 1.4% from the 2015 cohort. Additionally, the 2016 cohort graduation rate was up 8% over 2007.

According to NYSED, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Board of Regents and the Department allowed certain students to be exempt from Regents exam requirements, provided that students passed the course. This was to ensure that students were not negatively affected academically and eligible to graduate in 2020.

New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr. commented on the recently published rates and how the department overcame the COVID-19 pandemic:

“During the pandemic, we all have been forced to adjust how we go about our daily lives,” he said. “When our schools were abruptly required to close last March, the Board took the necessary action to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students while providing them with the opportunity to progress academically. We thank school communities for their tireless efforts to ensure continuity of learning for all students during this unprecedented time.” 

Additionally, NYSED stated that the statewide graduation rates in nearly all Need or Resource groups increased.

The Department confirmed that low and average-need districts continued to have the highest graduation rates at 95.3% and 90.4% respectively. Large, high-need city schools continued to have the lowest graduation rates. Charter school graduation rates decreased to 79.5%, representing a 1.3% decrease from last year.

The state also confirmed the following regarding cohort graduation rates by race and ethnicity.

2014 rate2015 rate2016 rate2014 gap to white peers2016 gap to white peersChange in gap 2014 to 2016
American Indian / Alaska Native7074.476.919.814-5.8
Asian / Pacific Islander89.689.791.10.2-0.2.04
Hispanic / Latino72.774.576.817.114.1-3

Additionally, data was provided regarding graduation rates among English Language Learners:

20152016% point change
Ever ELLs89.890+0.2
Current ELLs38.946+7.1

The full report can be found on the New York State Education Department website.

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