Across the Rochester City School District, graduation rates are at a 10-year high. But Board of Education President Van White says this is not a time to celebrate, because while these numbers represent hope for families in Rochester, this is not "mission accomplished."
Since 2015, rates have risen from 45 percent to 58 percent this past school year. During the same period, East High School has more than doubled its rate from 29 percent to 65 percent.
This year’s graduating seniors at East were the first class to spend all four high school years under the educational partnership organization.
"They've been able to experience what we've done as far as changing the building culture," said East Assistant Superintendent Lorna Washington. "They've been able to receive double periods of literacy and math, they've been able to get social/emotional supports. But they've also just been able to experience what it really looks like to be successful."
Speaking from a personal standpoint and not on behalf of the board, White said that he would like to see the district request state funding to expand the EPO model to other schools.
"If they want to generate the results that we've gotten throughout this district, specifically at East High School, there's a tool in hand and this is what you're going to need to pay to get it," said White. "It's time for us to be bold."
Superintendent Terry Dade, who took office just last month, said it feels "fantastic" to be coming into the district at this time, and echoed White saying there is still more to come.
Earlier this month, the City of Rochester announced it plans to fight a state Supreme Court ruling that a proposed referendum to let residents decide on a state takeover of the district, was in fact, illegal.
The City responded to the graduation rates in a statement Wednesday.
“While we welcome any sign of slight progress in the Rochester City School District, it is disturbing that over the past five years the increase in graduation rates are almost exclusively attributed to local diplomas, which the State has been asking districts to phase out. We know that many of our children are not leaving the District ready for college or a career, and it is incumbent upon all of us to fight for true change on their behalf.”