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Many local grad rates top national average in USA

Many area schools surpass the national graduation rates recently praised by the U.S. Department of Education as the highest in history in a recently released report.

The 80 percent rate is above the state average of 74 percent, for the school year that ended in 2012. According to a state Education Department release, while more work is being done to improve the rates, the fact that the state rate remained stable, despite increased requirements, is noteworthy.

Local educators said they are working to improve their rates, no matter how they compared to the state average.

Sidney Central School Superintendent Bill Christensen said that with its Regents program, New York has more requirements than some other states, so the rate can’t be compared to the overall national average.

For those graduating in four years, the total in Sidney in 2012 was 79.8 percent in a class of 104. With recent ninth- and 10th-grade Regents scores being the highest ever, the rates should continue to improve, Christensen speculated. (The 2013 rate was not available.)

But the statistic is but “one piece of the puzzle” in determining future success, Christensen said.

“You have to look at the whole program to see how effective a program is. Not every student is going to graduate in four years.”

In preparing students for their future, career and technical training can be the answer, and that takes extra time, he said.

At Oneonta High School, the rate in 2012 was 75.9 percent with a graduating class of 162. The rate in 2013 is 80 percent, Principal Thomas Brindley said.

Brindley attributed the school’s improvement to the ability of his teachers to make connections with their students. None of this can happen without parental support, he said. Brindley said he expects gains to continue because lines of communication are open and people are working together. This includes improving scheduling so students will have more opportunities to take classes that they are interested in.

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