Graduation Rates Decrease Slightly Last Year In County

Graduation rates for Chautauqua County high schools decreased slightly in 2017.

The county saw a slightly higher percentage of students graduate with a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, while its dropout rate was unchanged from year to year.

Jamestown High School’s graduation rate was 76 percent with a 15 percent dropout rate in 2017, with both numbers the same as 2016. Complete results for all area schools can be found in Sunday’s edition of The Post-Journal.

The state Education Department released graduation rates Wednesday for students who graduated in June. Statewide, the high school graduation rate edged above 80 percent in 2017, but black and Hispanic students graduated at lower rates than white students. State education officials say black, Hispanic and white students all made small gains in the four-year graduation rate, but a 20-point gap exists between white students and their minority peers.

Data released Wednesday shows the overall June graduation rate was 80.2 percent, up from 79.7 percent in 2016.

Students in poorer urban districts also continue to lag behind. While nearly 95 percent of students in more affluent districts graduated in four years, just 64 percent of students in districts like Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Yonkers did.

New York City posted a 71 percent graduation rate, up from 70 percent a year earlier.

“The numbers show that we are building on our progress with more students earning a diploma on time,” said Mary Ellen Elia, state education commissioner, in a video released via the state Education Department website. “Our four-year graduation rate for 2017 has now increased to 80.2 percent. While it’s welcome news that our graduation rate is moving in a positive direction, unacceptable gaps in achievement persist.”

Local results were similar to the statewide results.

The graduation rate in Chautauqua County decreased one percent from 84 percent in 2016 to 83 percent in 2017. Two percent of Chautauqua County students received non-diploma credentials (an increase of 1 percent from 2016), 8 percent are still enrolled (a 2 percent increase from 2016) and 8 percent of students dropped out.

There was no change in the percentage of students who dropped out from 2016 to 2017.

The graduation rate for white students in the county decreased three percent to 85 percent while the dropout rate remained at 6 percent. The county bucked the statewide trend for African-American students, whose graduation rate increased 12 percent to 81 percent in 2017 while the percentage of African-American students receiving a Regents with Advanced Designation was 13 percent, an increase of 5 percent. County schools continued to struggle with Hispanic or Latino graduation rates, which remained the same at 64 percent; though the dropout rate for Hispanic or Latino students decreased from 22 percent in 2016 to 18 percent in 2017.

There also remains a stark difference in the graduation rates between students’ economic background both in Chautauqua County and throughout New York state. In Chautauqua County, students who are not considered economically disadvantaged graduated resulted in an 89 percent graduation rate, with 47 percent earning a Regents with Advanced Designation, while 75 percent of students who are considered economically disadvantaged graduated with 15 percent of those students earning a Regents with Advanced Designation.

The dropout rate was 12 percent for economically disadvantaged students compared to 4 percent for students who aren’t economically disadvantaged.

Elia pointed to more positive results for minority students and economically disadvantaged students who don’t graduate on time but remain enrolled in school. She said graduation rates for those students increase with additional time in the classroom.

“With an extra year or two of high school, the graduation rates for these students increase, as well as the achievement rates between black and Hispanic students and their white peers narrowed,” Elia said. “This data are encouraging and show very clearly that persistence does pay off.”