Gov. Susana Martinez
- Class of 2014 Graduation Rate Was 68.5 percent
Santa Fe — The New Mexico Public Education Department (PED) has announced that the graduation rate for the Class of 2014 was 68.5 percent.
This statewide rate represents a small drop from the 2013 rate of 70 percent, but remains 5.5 percentage points higher than the graduation rate from four years ago.
“Teachers tell me all the time that we know which students are most at-risk of dropping out, so we need to do more to get them the help and attention they need to keep them in the classroom. If we can ensure they get a diploma, their chance at success in life and in the workforce goes way up,” Gov. Susana Martinez said. “Despite improvement in our graduation rate over time, across the state, our graduation rates are far too low and we must do better. But, we must embrace reform if we are to make long-term, substantial improvements to this problem that has plagued our state for decades. That means we should adopt higher expectation for our high school students, and it means targeting resources to the schools in our state where we see the greatest problem with dropouts.”
Martinez, alongside leaders from the Albuquerque Public Schools, also announced a series of reform proposals aimed at targeting help and establishing higher expectations for students in New Mexico who are habitually truant.
These proposals would include placing social workers in at-risk middle schools and dropout prevention coaches in the high schools that are fed by those middle schools, in an effort to regularly intervene in the lives of those students most at risk of dropping out. In addition, the Governor is supporting a change in New Mexico law that would disallow habitually truant high school students from obtaining or keeping their driver’s license.
According to the graduation rate data, fifty-four percent of the state’s 89 school districts saw their graduation rates increase this year over last year. Districts such as Las Cruces, Hatch, Central Consolidated, and Gadsden all raised their graduation rates by up to 5 points this year, and Hobbs saw a gain of 5.6 points. As districts begin to embrace reform, results follow. Albuquerque Public Schools, which saw a decrease in its graduation rate, has applied for school turnaround funding for the first time ever, with schools slated to join the turnaround programs this summer. District leadership has also been instrumental in working with the Governor to develop the proposals for targeted help in middle and high schools for habitually truant students.
The Governor’s FY16 budget proposal includes nearly $3,000,000 to continue programs under the New Mexico Graduates Now! Initiative (which include investments in advanced placement, college or career preparedness initiatives, a dropout prevention data system, and other reforms), as well as a total of $12,500,000 to provide direct support to districts, schools, and students in need of additional support and intervention. Included in these packages is funding to support district pilots for truancy and dropout prevention, and for social workers in targeted middle schools.
“We know that our students need to be in school in order for them to succeed,” said Albuquerque Public Schools Interim Superintendent Brad Winter. “That’s why we’re heavily invested in new truancy initiatives to work on solutions to this issue together, and I’m confident that by taking proactive steps toward addressing these issues, we will decrease truancy rates and increase our graduation rates.”