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Dear Parents,

Today, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released high school graduation rates for the 2012 cohort, students who entered 9th grade in 2012. The overall graduation rate increased to 79.4 percent, up 1.3 percentage points from 78.1 percent for the 2011 cohort. The 2012 cohort graduation rate is more than 12 percentage points higher than it was a decade earlier, when the 2002 cohort graduation rate was 67.2 percent.

When August graduates are included, the 2012 cohort graduation rate increased to 81.4 percent, which exceeds the goal established for federal accountability in 2009 to have 80 percent of students graduate by August of their fourth year in high school. Despite this milestone, significant achievement gaps exist.

This year's graduation rate improved for each of the state's Big 5 city school districts, black and Hispanic students, and students with disabilities. While the graduation rate declined for current English language learners (ELLs), it increased for Ever ELL students.

While the upward trend in New York State's graduation rates continues, there is still much work to do. The Regents and I are committed to providing the resources and support to schools statewide to prepare students for the next phase in their lives. It's important for schools to offer multiple pathways to earn a high school diploma as well as career and technical programs. Similarly, we must help enable our struggling schools to improve outcomes for their students.

You can find much more information in today's  news release on high school graduation rates . As always, individual school district data may be found on our interactive data website .

In addition to releasing the high school graduation rates, NYSED is participating in several awareness campaigns for the month of February. These campaigns include:
  • Career and Technical Education Month
    Career and Technical Education Month, or CTE Month, celebrates the value of CTE. Throughout the month on Facebook and Twitter, NYSED will highlight the successes of the wonderful CTE programs across the state and provide other information about our programs, job skills, and famous CTE graduates from New York State.
  • National Children's Dental Health Month
    During this month-long campaign, dental professionals, healthcare providers, and educators promote the benefits of good oral health to children & their caregivers.
  • Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month
    The new Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention website from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence provides helpful resources and information for parents, advocates, and schools to raise awareness and help prevent teen dating violence.
  • Black History Month
    February is Black History Month, and many events, celebrations, and observances are taking place across the country. NYSED will also highlight the following:
    • Today, the Biondi School in Yonkers inducted Regent Judith Johnson into its Black History Wall of Fame.
    • This week, the State Library displayed its replica of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation at the Black History Month Cultural Expo at the Empire State Plaza.
    • Regent Catherine Collins will be the guest speaker at an event, "The Crisis in Black Education," at the Erie County Supreme Court on February 23 at 12:15. The event is free and open to the public.
    • Throughout the month on Facebook and Twitter, NYSED and the State Museum will highlight African American men and women in New York State history.
Finally, I wanted to remind you that if you have a college-bound student, you should be sure to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) . The federal deadline to apply for the 2016-17 school year is June 30, 2017, but it is important to complete the application as soon as possible to avoid missing out on available aid. If you're a New York State resident and have completed the FAFSA, you should also complete the online New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) application. If you have other questions about financial aid, the   SUNY Smart Track financial literacy website has a lot of great resources that can help you plan for the costs of college.

Please be sure to keep in touch. If you haven't already, I encourage you to sign up for our parent email list to receive updates from the State Education Department. Please spread the word and help us all stay connected!


MaryEllen Elia