State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the graduation rates marked steady progress - up almost 12 percentage points over 10 years - but highlighted persistent differences between black and Hispanic students and their white classmates.
Figures released Wednesday also showed the statewide graduation rate reached a record high in 2017, with 80.2% of students graduating on time, compared with 79.7% in 2016.
State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia highlighted Yonkers' My Brother's Keeper efforts in her call with reporters Wednesday, referring to the initiative started by President Barack Obama in 2014. "And that's good news". That's an issue that the district is working to address, he said.
The state's rate has ticked up each of the past five years, steadily increasing from 74.9 percent in 2013 after remaining flat at 74 percent in 2011 and 2012.
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"That's what makes the difference more than anything", he said, adding that graduation becomes a reality "if you're able to keep our young people in school and you provide them the support both academic and social-emotional".
The Lewiston School District recorded a 95.4 percent rate, the highest among larger districts with cohort sizes exceeding 300 students.
The data also shows the number of students who received each type of diploma and the number of dropouts in each district. The rate climbed to 82.1 percent with the inclusion of August graduates.
But the graduation rates were a reminder of the inequity in the school system, he said, as half of the schools are above the state average for graduation rates and about half are below.
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"I'm impatient by nature, so I'd like to see a higher uptick", Cash said, "but I'm pleased it's going in an upward direction". Buffalo has lots of students in all three categories. Black and Hispanic students dropped out at a rate of 7.9% and 10.7%, respectively, while White and Asian students dropped out at rates of 4% and 4.4%.
"It's clear that more support needs to be provided to black and Latino students", Davids said.
Some critics have questioned the significance of ever-rising graduation rates, noting constantly changing state standards along with credit-recovery options for lagging students. But Asian and black students saw the highest gains in graduation rates over previous year. That's down slightly from the prior year.
Dillon also said Idaho's stagnant graduation rate has cost Idahoans at least $350 million - his calculation of the investment made in educating those who don't graduate.
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The results show the need to accelerate progress for low-income students and students of color while maintaining high expectations for all, said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of the Education Trust-New York, which advocates for students of color and those of low income.