Alternative schools show graduation rate hike

The New Mexico Public Education Department released the statewide graduation rates for the 2015-2016 school year

Joshua Kellogg
  • The New Mexico high school graduation rate is at an all-time high of 71 percent.
  • The graduation rates for three CCSD high schools dropped between 8.6 and 18.3 percentage points.
  • Charlie Y. Brown High School in Bloomfield had the largest graduation rate increase with 14.7 percentage points.
  • Career Prep High School in Shiprock has the largest decrease in graduation rate at 18.3 percentage points.

FARMINGTON — The alternative high schools in San Juan County showed the largest improvement in their high school graduation rate with three of them increasing between more than 9 percentage points and almost 15 percentage points, according to recently released data.

Seniors Jacob Sharp, left, Augustin Blackwater and Jenecio Avalos work in the computer lab Tuesday at Rocinante High School in Farmington, which saw a large increase in its graduation rate for the 2015-2016 school year.

That change comes as the graduation rate for three high schools in the Central Consolidated School District decreased between 8.6 and 18.3 percentage points.

The New Mexico Public Education Department released the graduation rate for all state public high schools for the 2015-2016 school year Monday. The statewide rate increased to 71 percent from 68.6 percent for 2014-2015.

Gov. Susana Martinez announced the 2015-2016 high school graduation rate was a record high for New Mexico, according to a press release. It has increased about 8 percentage points since the 2010-2011 school year, according to state education department data.

Even so, New Mexico continues to lag behind the national rate. The high school graduation rate nationwide for the 2014-2015 school year was 83.2 percent, according to a White House press release.

Alternative high schools like Vista Nueva in Aztec, Charlie Y. Brown in Bloomfield and Rocinante in Farmington saw the largest increases in their graduation rate.

Charlie Y. Brown High School had a 14.7 percentage point increase, Rocinante High School saw a 12.9 percentage point increase and there was a 9.3 percentage point increase for Vista Nueva High School.

Science teacher Alice Marie Stevens, center, works with Brea Trujillo, left, and Michelle McGrath during their forensics class Tuesday at Rocinante High School in Farmington.

Bloomfield School District Superintendent Kim Mizell cited a credit-recovery program introduced last school year at Charlie Y. Brown for the increase in the graduation rate.

“It’s something we definitely want to celebrate,” Mizell said about the graduation rate increase.

The Bloomfield High School graduation rate increased 1.6 percentage points to 72 percent.

Farmington Municipal School District Superintendent Gene Schmidt said he felt good about the district’s performance.

Rocinante High School’s graduation rate increased from 35.1 percent to 48 percent, but Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools saw small decreases in their graduation rate. Farmington High decreased 1.6 percentage points to 72 percent, and Piedra Vista had a 0.2 percentage point decrease to 80 percent.

“We’ve very pleased. Sometimes, holding your own is a good thing,” Schmidt said.

He added that Rocinante High had the largest graduating class in school history with 75 students in 2016.

Senior Alexandria Watchman works on her online project Tuesday during class at Rocinante High School in Farmington.

Aztec Municipal School District Superintendent Kirk Carpenter described the changes at Aztec High School and Vista Nueva as a mixed bag.

There was a 9.7 percentage point decrease in Aztec High School’s graduation rate from 78.7 percent to 69 percent. But Vista Nueva High School’s graduation rate increased from 45.7 percent to 55 percent.

Carpenter said district officials plan to examine the data from the Aztec High graduating class of 2016 to figure how to improve the graduation rate.

“We’re never happy when a graduation rate decreases,” Carpenter said.

For the Central Consolidated School District, Career Prep High School saw an 18.3 percentage point decline in its graduation rate, decreasing from 29.3 percent to 11 percent.

There was an 11.2 percentage point drop for Newcomb High School, as the graduation rate decreased from 72.2 percent to 61 percent. Shiprock High School decreased a total of 8.6 percentage points, from 72.6 percent to 64 percent.

Kirtland Central High School had the smallest decrease with a 1.4 percentage point drop to 76 percent.

CCSD spokesman James Preminger said the district declined comment. He said officials are waiting to receive additional graduation rate data from the state education department.

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