The city’s school district registered a remarkable — 87.79-percent – high school graduation rate in the 2016-17 school year, according to data released by the New Jersey Department of Education on Friday.
11 of the 12 high schools posted graduation rates above 80-percent. Three high schools — School of Business, Technology, Marketing, and Finance at John F. Kennedy High School; Harp Academy; and the School of Information Technology at Eastside High School – made double-digit gains from the previous year.
The Kennedy academy saw its graduation rate jump to 84-percent from 71. Harp Academy’s rate went to 97-percent from 86. The Eastside academy’s rate increased to 84-percent from 71.
Superintendent Eileen Shafer touted the district’s ever-increasing graduation rate earlier in the week at a community forum. She pointed out nine years ago less than half of the city’s high school students graduated.
The graduation rate in 2009 was 45-percent. Through the use of credit recovery, better teacher training, smaller high schools the district steadily increased the rate.
The latest graduation rate is 10 points higher than the previous 78-percent.
“It happened with students doing better and taking school more seriously,” said Shafer at the community forum. “We will continue to work on our graduation rate.”
Three high schools saw their graduation rates decrease. Rosa Parks High School dropped to 97 from 100-percent the previous year. School of Government and Public Administration at Eastside High School dropped to 85-percent from 87. And the School of Architecture and Construction Trades at Kennedy High School dropped to 79-percent from 81.
High schools throughout New Jersey made gains in graduation rates. State’s graduation rate reached a high of 90.5-percent, slightly higher than the previous 90.1. Biggest gains were made by minority (Hispanics and blacks), low-income, English language learners, and special education students suggesting a narrowing of the achievement gap.
“I’d like to congratulate the students, educators, school leaders, community members and families for such steady increases in high school graduation rates, as such efforts require perseverance, academic excellence and a strong focus on the needs of the whole child, particularly those most at risk,” said acting education commissioner Lamont Repollet in a statement. “These increases in high school graduation rates are exciting, as they demonstrate we are on a path toward closing our achievement gaps and achieving excellent and equitable educational opportunities for our children.”
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Correction: A previous version of this report erroneously stated the graduation rate covered 2017-18 school year, when in fact, the rate is for 2016-17 academic year.