The Schenectady City School District’s graduation rate slid slightly in 2011 after making progress in 2010, according to a report card released on Thursday by the state Education Department.
The graduation rate for the district was 58 percent for last year’s class, which is one percentage point below where it was in 2010 and five percentage points below the goal set by the state for 2011. The state standard for graduation rates is 80 percent.
There was some growth in graduation rates for Schenectady, however, with “economically disadvantaged” students surpassing their targeted rate of 64 percent by one percentage point.
By the numbers
A look at graduation rates in Capital Region school districts for the past two years:
District 2011 2010
Albany 51 percent 53 percent
Guilderland 92 percent 91 percent
North Colonie 90 percent 93 percent
South Colonie 87 percent 87 percent
Amsterdam 61 percent 61 percent
Canajoharie 81 percent 76 percent
Fonda-Fultonville 87 percent 79 percent
Fort Plain 86 percent 74 percent
Saint Johnsville 65 percent 77 percent
Broadalbin-Perth 88 percent 87 percent
Gloversville 64 percent 69 percent
Johnstown 76 percent 76 percent
Mayfield 83 percent 84 percent
Northville 75 percent 81 percent
Oppenheim-Ephratah 81 percent 68 percent
Ballston Spa 86 percent 82 percent
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 91 percent 93 percent
Corinth 80 percent 72 percent
Galway 86 percent 82 percent
Mechanicville 81 percent 74 percent
Saratoga Springs 85 percent 85 percent
Schuylerville 87 percent 85 percent
Shenendehowa 92 percent 89 percent
South Glens Falls 82 percent 76 percent
Stillwater 85 percent 85 percent
Waterford-Halfmoon 73 percent 82 percent
Duanesburg 85 percent 95 percent
Mohonasen 82 percent 80 percent
Niskayuna 92 percent 93 percent
Schalmont 82 percent 85 percent
Schenectady 58 percent 59 percent
Scotia-Glenville 83 percent 80 percent
Cobleskill-Richmondville 82 percent 86 percent
Gilboa-Conesville 84 percent 81 percent
Jefferson 85 percent 81 percent
Middleburgh 84 percent 84 percent
Schoharie 72 percent 80 percent
Sharon Springs 96 percent 90 percent
SOURCE: EDUCATION DEPARTMENT (based on district-wide numbers)
Interim Superintendent John Yagielski noted that the graduation rate in the high school is actually above the districtwide rate, because the district figure includes students who are educated outside the high school, such as through a BOCES program. The graduation rate for the high school was at 60 percent in 2011, the same as the year before.
“We focus on what is happening at our high school,” he said.
The graduation rates are based on students following a four-year timetable.
The report also revealed that a majority of students in grades 3-8 did not reach proficiency standards for statewide tests in math and language arts. These results were relatively unchanged from the previous year. Science scores went down a few percentage points for fourth- and eighth-graders, falling to 74 percent and 53 percent, respectively.
There were positive changes in secondary English and math scores, where student proficiency increased by two percentage points, to 60 percent in English and 56 percent in math.
“It will take time for these numbers to turn around,” Yagielski said of the district’s scores.
The district has been aware of these numbers for about six months, he said, and has implemented plans to improve them. But these are mostly long-term issues, so the most effective changes won’t lead to positive numbers for a few more years, he said.
“If youngsters in the high school have poor reading skills … that doesn’t get corrected at the high school. You really have to go back as a system to look to build a stronger base,” he said.
Yagielski added that a lot of the positive steps being taken are at a time when budgets are being cut, which could also negate the impact of new policies.
In the Greater Amsterdam School District, the graduation rate remained at 61 percent, four percentage points short of its goal set by the state.
District Superintendent Thomas Perillo argued the school generally has been improving in recent years in its graduation rate, but acknowledged it didn’t reach its goal for 2011.
“The effort and preparation by the staff and students was definitely there,” he said. “I believe, and so do our directors and teachers, that we’re heading in the right direction. However, we’re not where we want to be right now.”
A majority of the district’s statewide test scores in language arts and math were not proficient for grades 3-8, but Perillo pointed to significant improvements in English and math scores at the secondary level.
The English scores went up eight percentage points, to 72 percent, and the math scores went up five percentage points, to 68 percent.
The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District, which fell one point below the state standard graduation rate in 2010, responded positively, with an 87 percent graduation rate last year.
District Superintendent James Hoffman credited the success mainly to a focus on ninth-grade students that began more than four years ago. But he said the positive trend isn’t likely to continue because the program was cut a few years ago.
Overall, Hoffman was happy with the district’s performance and noted that because of its small size the performance of a few children can greatly affect the district’s percentages.
He described the report cards from the state as a beneficial tool for parents and said they were similar to the information his district already packages.
In Fulton County, the city school districts of Johnstown and Gloversville both fell short of their state goals and failed to reach the standard graduation rate. Gloversville slipped five percentage points in 2011, to a 64 percent graduation rate, while Johnstown remained steady at 76 percent.
A full breakdown of Schenectady’s report card can be found on the Capital Region Scene blog at http://dailygazette.com/.