Buffalo’s graduation rate maintains previous gains

Jan 31, 2019

Graduation rates in the Buffalo Public School District are holding steady.  WBFO’s senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the State Education Department issued the new numbers this week.

Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts classroom.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

This latest round of graduation rates shows the city school district maintaining previous gains. The overall graduation rate for the cohort from June of 2014 is 62.6 percent, but when you include those who graduated last August, it jumps to 64.5 percent.

“It is now a pyridine shift that students are allowed to have four, five or six years to complete their diploma and what that allows students to do – is students who have extraordinary needs, as many of our students do, have the opportunity, without that external pressure, to be able to complete their requirements,” said Genelle Morris, chief accountability officer, Buffalo School District.

The district realizes more work needs to be done. But it is a 16-percent improvement from the 48-percent rate back in 2012. 

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia also pointed out that there is an upward trend among Buffalo’s English Language Learners.

“Buffalo experienced the greatest growth of 11.7-percentage points,” declared Elia.     

The district is also working to changing a large gap between the numbers of white students graduating compared to black and Hispanic students.

“The primary lever for all of this is the Education Bargain and making sure that everything we do is strategic in that initiative to make sure we’re supporting our own students to be successful and exit with a diploma,” Morris explained.  

Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts students in their classroom.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Who is not graduating?” asked Buckley. “30-pecent of students who have not yet met the graduation standards. What we’ve notice is even though we had a significant increase in the number of students who are English Language Learners, over four years, we still have a significant number of students who have not graduated,” replied Morris.

Seven city schools also exceeded the 80-percent graduation rate, City Honors, DaVinci, Olmstead, Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Hutch Tech, Emerson and Middle Early College School.  Dropout rates are also lower in the city school district. 

“Steady progress is being made to improve the graduation rate of all subgroups of students.  When given the time and support necessary for a high-needs student population to succeed, we are encouraged that even greater graduation rate gains can be made under the effective strategies of the Education Bargain,” said Superintendent Kriner Cash. 

Graduation rates in Buffalo.
Credit Graphic from Buffalo Public School District