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Mayor praises NYC high school graduation rate

By Verena Dobnik
Associated Press / June 12, 2012
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NEW YORK—New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reported a record high school graduation rate, but the teachers union says figures released Monday show a flat rate -- for the first time in a half dozen years.

Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott announced that 65.5 percent of New York City students graduated in four years last August -- an all-time high, they said, with an increase of 19 points since 2005.

When he became mayor, "schools hadn't seen significant increases in their graduation rates in more than a decade," the mayor said in a statement. "Yet through our strategies to improve education, we've steadily improved graduation rates and student achievement for the tenth consecutive year."

United Federation of Teachers officials said last year's uptick of less than a half percentage point from 65.1 came only after summer school helped some public high school students get their diploma. In June last year, the graduation rate dipped slightly -- to 60.9 percent from 61 percent in 2010, according to data released by the state Department of Education.

That means a graduation rate that is more or less flat, said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

"This report is not good news for Mayor Bloomberg," he said in a statement.

In June, while the city slipped, other New York cities such as Syracuse and Buffalo moved up by several points, according to the state report.

New York City generally lags far behind the rest of New York state.

Statewide, about three out of four students, or 74 percent, who entered high school in 2007 graduated after four years, according to the data. That was slightly better than the 73.4 percent graduation rate for the class before it.

The city's college-readiness rate also fell slightly, from 21.4 percent to 20.7 percent.

To graduate in New York state, students must pass five exams administered by the Board of Regents that determines education policies and measures results.

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