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Statewide graduation rate up a bit; Some local districts above, some below state rate

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New Mexico four-year graduation rates increased a tenth of a percent in 2017 to 71.1 percent of students, which is still far behind the national rate.

But state officials are stressing a steady path of progress since 2011, as well as strong percentage gains among Hispanic students and minority student populations.

Meanwhile, the results for local school districts was mixed, with some rates higher and some lower than the statewide rate, according to data released Friday by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

The four-year statewide rate in 2017 of 71.1 percent was an all-time high for New Mexico, according to state officials.

The rate in 2016 was 71 percent, which compared to an 84.1 percent U.S. rate. In 2010, the state rate was 67.3 percent.

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“I applaud New Mexico’s success in increasing the high school graduation rate for all students, including those who have historically been underserved,” said Bob Wise, president of the national Alliance for Excellent Education.

In making the announcements, Gov. Susana Martinez and Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski talked about the importance of gains for the state’s Hispanic population, which represents 60 percent of all public school students.

For 2017, the four-year graduation rate for Hispanics was 70.5 percent, up from 59.3 percent in 2011.

Rates also have risen for African-Americans, disabled and low-income students.

African-American students have experienced a 7.8 percent increase to 67.9 percent. Low-income students’ graduation rate has grown 10 points to 66.4 percent, while disabled students’ graduation rate in 2017 is at 61.5 percent, up 14.5 points from 2011.

According to state education officials, several programs funded or coordinated by the Public Education Department are helping to boost outcomes. Among those are mentoring and coaching programs for at-risk students, early warning systems implemented in some schools to inform educators, parents and students when attendance and performance are falling; and funding to enable low-income students to pay only $3 for Advanced Placement exams.

“Our students from all backgrounds and zip codes are proving that demographics need not determine our students’ futures,” said Secretary Ruszkowski. “New Mexico’s students today are more prepared than ever before to contribute to the state’s economic progress and vitality.”

The data provided by the state also shows that the 2017 four-year graduation rate for all of Roswell Independent School District was 65.8 percent. Goddard High School’s rate was 65.2 percent, Roswell High’s rate was 68.6 percent and University High’s rate was 32.6 percent. The Early College High School rate could not be calculated, given that the program started in fall 2014.

The 2017 rates for other Chaves County school districts, all of which have only one high school, were as follows: Dexter Consolidated Schools, 76.2 percent; Hagerman Municipal Schools, 82.9 percent; and Lake Arthur Municipal Schools, 61.7 percent.