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City, County Grad Rates Down Again In 2019

Jamestown and Chautauqua County graduation rates slightly decreased in 2019 as New York state as a whole observed a small, overall increase.

The Jamestown Public Schools District’s graduation rate dipped to 71% in 2019 compared to its 73% graduation rate in 2018.

Dr. Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent, said graduations rates have be “resilient” over the last five years and expects “great improvements” in years to come when current early education efforts begin to make statistical impacts.

“I’ll be very surprised if the numbers don’t improve dramatically over the next few years,” Apthorpe told The Post-Journal, referring to recent district efforts with its Success Academy and its summer literacy program known as JPS LEAP, or Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress, which hosted 400 elementary students last year.

The state determines graduation rates by observing achievement among specific cohorts, or groups of students who first entered ninth grade in the same school year. Graduation rates in 2019 reflect the performances of 2015 groups over a four-year period. All statistics are based on graduation rates from August.

The state’s graduation rate in 2019 was 83.4%, less than a 1% increase from the previous year. The county’s graduation decreased by 1% to 81% in 2019.

In Jamestown, students who graduated with advanced placement increased from 27% to 28%; those with a regents diploma decreased from 39% to 38%; and those with a local diploma remained flat at 7%.

The dropout rate increased from 13% to 16% in 2019 while the percentage of students who didn’t graduate and who are still enrolled increased from 10% to 11%.

Apthorpe has often referred to the poverty rates among the JPS population as having a significant impact on student achievement.

In 2019, 65% of 210 economically disadvantaged students graduated compared to the 85% graduation rate among 158 student considered not economically disadvantaged.

Graduation rates varied among ethnicity groups including black (55%), Hispanic (58%), white (75%) and multiracial (75%).

Male students held a 67% graduation rate while female students held an 75% graduation rate.

Students with disabilities observed a 33% graduation rate in 2019 while English language learners, or ELLs, observed a 17% graduation rate in 2019.

Apthorpe added that while school officials “work hard very hard” to assist all students in graduating right now, likely improvements will begin to show by 2022 based on the Success Academy and around 2025 based on its LEAP program.

As for other area schools, the Falconer Central School District held a 92% graduation rate in 2019 while the Southwestern Central School District observed a 94% graduation rate in 2019.

Overall, Chautauqua County schools decreased slightly for a third year in a row. The graduation rate fell from 83% in 2017 to 81% in 2019 while the dropout rate decreased to 6%, a change of 2%. Students who graduated with an advanced placement diploma decreased from 34% to 33%.

Other 2019 results included students graduating with a regents diploma (42%), students graduating with a local diploma (6%) and students who didn’t graduate but who are still enrolled (11%).

The New York State graduation rate as a whole increased from 82.6% in 2018 to 83.4% in 2019. State officials noted that the overall graduation rate is up 7.3% from 2006.

The state’s dropout rate increased slightly to 6.1%, a 0.1% percent change.

“While the continued upward trend in New York’s graduation rate is encouraging, there remains work to be done,” said Shannon Tahoe, University of the State of New York interim commissioner. “The Department and the Board of Regents is committed to supporting districts as they work to prepare our students for the next phase of their lives, whether that is college, career or civic engagement. We will build on our progress by further addressing achievement gaps to keep our students moving in the right direction.”

The state also focused on achievement gaps which it has attempted to mitigate over the years. Despite progress, a gap between achievement among black and Hispanic students compared to white students remains.

Across the state, graduations rates among black students was 75.3% with a 14.9% gap; graduation rates among Hispanic students was 74.5% with a 15.7% gap; graduation rates among multiracial students was 83% with a 7.2% gap. White students held a 90.2% graduation rate statewide.

See The Sunday Post-Journal for a full breakdown of Chautauqua County school districts’ graduation rates.

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