Graduation rates at most schools grow slightly

In New Mexico, the high school graduation rate dropped less than 1 percentage point from 2014 to 2015

Joshua Kellogg
Piedra Vista High School's Jolleen Duran looks at photos on April 8, 2014, at the Four Corners Orthodontics and Dental table during a Career Fair at the school in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Most of San Juan County's high schools slightly improved their graduation rates in the last school year, according to recently released data.

The New Mexico Public Education Department announced on Friday that the statewide high school graduation rate dropped less than 1 percentage point from the 2013-2014 to 2014-2015 school years.

Last school year, the graduation rate in New Mexico was 68.6 percent, a small drop from 69.3 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, according to data on the state education department website.

The statewide graduation rate was about 70 percent for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years.

Data released on Friday shows that nine of the 12 high schools in San Juan County saw their graduation rates increase.

Bloomfield High School was the traditional high school with the largest graduation rate increase. The school saw its graduation rate increase from 64.6 percent in 2014 to 70.4 percent in 2015.

The school is still recovering from its graduation rate dropping more than 12 percentage points from 2013 to 2014. The graduation rate was 77 percent in 2013.

Bloomfield High School Principal Chad Burkholder said he was happy about the increase and praised the school's teachers for their efforts in improving student success by focusing on credit recovery and intervention.

“They work hard and take pride in what they do,” Burkholder said. “Without them, it wouldn’t work.”

Rocinante High School in Farmington had the largest graduation rate increase among alternative high schools, growing its graduation rate by 9.5 percentage points from 25.6 percent in 2014 to 35.1 percent last year.

Piedra Vista High School's Alejandro Contreras checks the blood pressure of Hillary Datton, an emergency medical technician, during a Career Fair on April 8, 2014, at the school in Farmington

Much like the statewide graduation rate, Farmington and Kirtland Central high schools both saw their graduation rates dip by less than 1 percentage point.

Kirtland Central’s graduation rate remained nearly unchanged at 77.4 percent in 2015, compared to 77.8 percent in 2014.

The graduation rate for Farmington was 73.6 percent in 2015, a drop from 74.3 percent in 2014.

Vista Nueva High School in Aztec had the largest graduation rate drop for an alternative high school, going from an 80.3 percent graduation rate in 2014 to 45.7 percent last year. The school's 2013 rate was 46 percent.

Rocky Torres, Vista Nueva principal, said enrollment at the alternative high school fluctuates and the student population is small. Last year, 7 seniors graduated.

"One student can make a pretty significant difference," Torres said.

The traditional high school with the highest graduation rate in the county was Piedra Vista High School. The Farmington school's graduation rate last year was 80.2 percent, up from 76.3 percent the year before.

Piedra Vista Principal Dave Golden said there is still room to improve, but he said the staff, including guidance counselors, have worked hard to ensure students graduate in four years.

"We just want to make sure students graduate on time," Golden said.

Aztec High School was just behind Piedra Vista, with a 78.7 percent graduation rate in 2015, an increase from 75.2 percent in 2014.

In the Central Consolidated School District, Newcomb High School saw the biggest increase in its graduation rate, going from 67.9 percent in 2014 to 72.2 percent in 2015. In three years, staff at the school have increased the graduation rate by 10.5 percentage points, raising the rate from when it was 61.7 percent in 2013.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.