FARMINGTON — Most high schools in San Juan County saw minor changes to their graduation rates for the class of 2013, according to figures released by the state education department.
The New Mexico Public Education Department announced Friday that statewide graduation rates were unchanged from 2013 to 2012. The classes of 2012 and 2013 both had a 70.3 percent graduation rate. Graduation rates for the class of 2012 increased by seven percentage points over the class of 2011, according to the education department.
The recently-released data shows that high schools in the Aztec, Bloomfield, Central Consolidated and Farmington school districts saw slight changes in graduation rates. Most saw their rates increase or decrease by three to six percentage points.
Of all the high schools in the four districts, Newcomb High School witnessed the biggest decline in graduation rates, dropping 12.9 percentage points from 74.6 percent in 2012 to 61.7 percent in 2013.
Newcomb High was among three high schools in the Central Consolidated School District that saw their graduation rates decline. The other two schools were Kirtland Central and Shiprock high schools.
CCSD spokesman James Preminger said the district is taking a hard look at the data.
"Obviously the numbers, on their face, show there is need for improvement," Preminger said in an email. "But at the same time the overall district graduation rate fails to show the accomplishments of individual schools, teachers and students."
Preminger said in the email that Kirtland Central and Newcomb High made significant gains, according to the grades the schools received from the New Mexico Public Education Department, which were released in July 2013. Kirtland Central received an A grade and Newcomb High received a B grade, according to the state's A-to-F school assessments.
In 2012, Kirtland Central High had the highest graduation rate in San Juan County at 80.7 percent. For the class of 2013, the rate dropped 6.1 percentage points to 74.6 percent.
Shiprock High's graduation rate decreased to 64.5 percent in 2013, a drop of less than one percentage point.
According to the state data, the Aztec Municipal School District was one of 13 districts in the state to see back-to-back increases in its graduation rate from 2011 to 2012 and then again from 2012 to 2013.
Aztec High School Principal Warman Hall said the school has seen its graduation rate increase for the last four years.
The class of 2013's graduation rate increased by five percentage points to 72.4 percent over the rate of the 2012 class.
"It's an honor to be listed with those districts that are showing a steady improvement in grad rates," Hall said.
Hall said he believes all high schools and districts are making efforts to focus on intervention for struggling and at-risk students. That, he said, has helped more seniors graduate.
The biggest graduation rate increase was at Bloomfield High School, which in 2013 increased by 6.7 percentage points over 2012 to 77 percent.
Bloomfield High School Principal Cody Diehl said it was exciting to see the increase in graduating seniors, and he thanked the community, staff and students for their work.
"That big of a jump is a surprise to me," Diehl said. "I don't think we've done much differently than we did last year or the year before."
Diehl said the school has worked in the past three to four years on an intervention system to give students more opportunities and to recognize that students have different learning styles.
"We're trying to change that culture and way of thinking," Diehl said.
The high school with highest gradation rate among the four districts was Piedra Vista High School. The Farmington school's graduation rate increased 2.4 percentage points to 78.8 percent. Farmington High School saw a drop from 70.4 percent in 2012 to 64.6 percent in 2013.
Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Janel Ryan said she was pleased to see Piedra Vista approach an 80 percent graduation rate.
"We will look at what their goals will be for seniors and upcoming seniors, plan for student success and set a significant goal to move higher," she said.