Syracuse City Schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea says he expected the jump in graduation rates due to continuing efforts to increase student performance and closely monitoring their progress. Overall, state data show close to 71 percent of students who entered high school in 2016 graduated in four years, a historic high.
Alicea credits the district’s 26 different career and technical education, or CTE pathways that students can choose as a freshmen.
"Once they choose their program, they're committed to that program because they want to follow the field of construction trades; they want to follow the field of engineering; they want to follow the field of flying drones. They're getting hands-on experiences, and that's getting them more engaged in their learning and their activities. They're invested."
The city’s first CTE program at the Institute for Technology has a 97 percent graduation rate, which Alicea says has taken several years of hard work. Among the biggest gains was among English Language Learners, which saw a 20 percent increase over the previous year to 58 percent. Alicea again credits years of dedication by teachers and students to get to this point.
"It is amazing to see the kids come in without being able to speak or read the language become fluent in the language. They are great readers. We have been able to provide the support they need from elementary to high school."
He says they often have to discontinue services early because students have mastered the language. Alicea says one of the keys to student success and graduation is constant monitoring of their progress from the moment they enter ninth grade, along with communication with families. One of the goals in their strategic plan, he says, is to have a learning plan for each student at all levels.
- Male students closed the gender gap with an 8.5 percent increase to 67 percent
- Students with disabilities saw a five percent increase to nearly 50 percent
- PSLA at Fowler was up nearly 24 percent
- Corcoran High School rose to 77.6 percent
Again, these are four year graduation rates, and the numbers don't mean that the remaining students simply dropped out. Alicea says most of those students just need more time to earn their diplomas; perhaps an extra semester, year, or summer.