Rochester, N.Y. — According to a new study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the Rochester City School District ranked last for graduating the lowest percentage of black male students in the nation.
The study looked at districts that enrolled 10,000 or more black male students.
In 2006, there were a total of 1,208 black males enrolled in the 9th grade at RCSD high schools. By the time those students were in 10th grade, 173 students dropped out or left the district. By the time the remaining 1,035 students reached 11th grade, there were only 543 black male students from that class — a net loss of 492 students.
In all, only 108 (9 percent) of the 1,208 black male students who enrolled in 2006 graduated on time, four years later (2010) with Regents or Advance Regents diplomas. The study’s author says many more students graduated with local diplomas or after attending high school for more than four years.
Detroit Public Schools ranked second to last but still graduated 20 percent of their African American male students who enrolled into the 9th grade in 2006.
Nationwide, 52 percent of black males students in public schools graduated high school.
RCSD superintendent Bolgen Vargas says the numbers show a serious problem.
“This is an epidemic and a serious one,” Vargas says. “My hope is that the community, the school district and all of us that are concerned will take the right step to address the needs of our children.”
Vargas says the problem starts at the elementary school level when students begin to form the habit of not going to school. Vargas says by the time these students reach high school, it’s difficult to convince them school is worthwhile. The district has already started working on tackling truancy with elementary school students.
However, starting the next school year, Vargas says the district will try a different approach for high school students.
The district will start to offer Advanced Placement, music and art courses at all of its high school campuses. Each high school will also have athletic teams and sports programs. Vargas believes this may engage student enough to attend school.
“We need to make school more interesting and when most students, unfortunately, don't have support at school or at home, it’s the reason they drop out of school.”
RCSD’s overall graduation rate for the 2009-2010 cohort was 46 percent.
for a link to the Schott Foundation's report titled "The Urgency of Now".