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Local graduation rate reaches 96%

Educators in the Skaneateles Central School District took time to celebrate briefly this week when the NY State Education Department released graduation rates for 2015, showing local rates going from 93 to 96 percent and spotlighting a dramatic increase in graduation rates for local students with disabilities – from 43 percent in 2014 to 81 percent in 2015.
After complimenting staff, administrators moved on to address important questions about how to improve in a way that is helpful to all students.
 “There is MUCH to be proud of in what these numbers reflect from kindergarten to commencement and I offer my most sincere thanks and appreciation for the work that sits behind the success of our students,” Superintendent Ken Slentz said in an email to staff.  He then added asked:
  • How do we capture, memorialize, and replicate in context those practices which resulted in the successes of our students?
  • Are our kids graduating ready and well in that they have exceeded the state minimum requirements; have had meaningful co and extracurricular experiences as well as job shadowing, intern and externship experiences, etc.; and are increasingly balanced across the 6 Dimensions such that they will be truly advantaged in their post-secondary lives?
High School Principal Gregory Santoro praised the collaboration of teachers, parents, administrators and local businesses and organizations that helped the majority of Skaneateles students reach the goal of graduation.  He noted that there is some fluctuation every year due to the cohort. These high school graduation rates are for the 2011 cohort (students who entered 9th grade in 2011). Graduation rates can be influenced by all kinds of things, including late entry of students. “If we have kids here four straight years, we have a really good shot at helping them succeed.  If we have them only one year (which happens some years more than others) we have more of a challenge,” he said in citing one such variable.
State wide, the overall graduation rate for the 2011 cohort increased to 78.1 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from 76.4 percent for the 2010 cohort. The data were presented during the Board of Regents meeting on Monday.
While the Skaneateles numbers are overall fantastic, Santoro quickly turned to the four percent who did not graduate, saying “we are concerned about them” and that is where improvement must take place.  He also stressed that it is important to “dig deeper” to improve the experience and outcomes for those who do graduate.  For example, he said, “we need to know if they are achieving all they can achieve. Did we help them find their pathways? Were they well? Are they ready? We have much more we can do in terms of collaboration and relationship building.”
Santoro said he is also concerned about the percentage of students who are struggling with stress and anxiety.  “It is about much more than academics,” he said.
Slentz, in his note to staff, vowed to spend much of the year focusing on the two questions above “and interrogating the data on our college and university students to see if those who enter in fact persist and complete their studies.”
For those who did complete their studies, he seeks to know what specific actions, programs and opportunities were most beneficial and must be replicated. For those that didn’t or don’t persist and complete, he seeks to ask “why not? What could we have done differently and/or better to give these students a great likelihood of success?”
In the meantime, though, Slentz urged staff to “take the time to relish the truth of these statistics and to think about that one student or those students from that class of 2015 that you know that you connected with and made a difference for. They are grateful even though they may not tell you that explicitly. Their success is your success, thereby making me grateful to work alongside of you as we seek to ensure that the members of the class of 2016 graduate and graduate ready and well.”
State news on graduation rates:
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Lynda Quick
45 East Elizabeth Street
Skaneateles, NY 13152