Grad rates improve in Buffalo schools, state looking at accuracy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The numbers are in for graduation rates for the class of 2013, and it appears there’s improvement for the Buffalo Public Schools.

The Buffalo School District is reporting an eight point increase in its graduation rates. In 2012 the graduation rate was 47.8 percent. Buffalo Schools is reporting that in 2013 that number jumped to 56 percent.

“We are satisfied with the improvement, but we are still woefully insufficient in our graduation rate so we have a lot work to do,” said Buffalo Schools Interim Superintendent Will Keresztes.

The district attributes the gain in part to the Say Yes partnership. Leading the pack with the highest graduation rate is City Honors at 98.2 percent. Falling dead last is Riverside Institute of Technology with only 25.6 percent of seniors graduating.

“We have to make sure the kids are ready to graduate when they graduate from elementary school so they can succeed in high school,” said Buffalo Teachers’ Federation President Phil Rumore.

Ken Slentz, the State Deputy Commissoner of P-12 Education, said they are currently auditing two Buffalo high schools: McKinley Vocational, which saw an increase of 57 percent to 66.2 percent, and East High School, where there was an almost 20 percent increase, going from 27.8 percent to 48.9 percent graduating.

Moving forward, there will be more schools audited in the coming months. It’s part of an auditing plan that looks specifically at priority and focus schools that are the lowest performing schools in the state.

“The initial indication is that we have some concerns about the data that was reported,” said Slentz. “We want to make sure that the accuracy of the numbers is exact. We want to make sure the public within the Buffalo Public Schools system has accurate information upon which to base choices for their children.”

Keresztes says they still need to make progress on increasing the graduation rates among the Hispanic population.

The final results from the audit are expected in September.

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