I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
New Mexico’s graduation problem
This week’s big education news (apart from charter schools’ latest report card) revealed maybe the biggest, most persistent problem we face: New Mexico’s downright appalling high school graduation rate.
According to the recent report by Education Week — entitled,“Diplomas Count 2009” — New Mexico ranks 48th in the nation for high school graduation rates. Or third worst for drop-outs. If it weren’t for Georgia and Nevada, we’d be dead last.
The state’s average graduation rate was 56 percent for the class of 2006.
I guess the glass-half-full types could point out that the state’s ’06 rate marked an improvement over the ’05 rate — when only 54.1 percent of students graduated high school.
It’s always a good idea to be clear about how such figures are calculated. The so-called “cohort” rate that the above study used has sometimes been faulted for counting transfers as drop-outs, or those who go on to earn a GED as drop-outs.
That’s one point I tried to pin down two local experts — Mayor Martin Chavez’s education coordinator Paul Broom and consultant Franklin Shargel — to explain. Broom, in particular, said he’s confident the Education Week stats are accurate.
Three more drop-out rate/graduation rate factoids stood out to me:
One, New Mexico’s drop-out problem seems most pronounced in urban places: In the state’s largest city, only 44 percent of Albuquerque Public Schools students graduate within four years.
Two, the achievement gap is still awfully wide: 68 percent of Anglo students graduated in 2006, while only 51 percent of Hispanic students and 49 percent of American Indian students graduated.
And three, there’s also a big gender gap: New Mexico girls were more likely to graduate from high school than boys — 61 percent of girls, compared with 53 percent of boys.
The nation’s graduation rate is about 70 percent.