New data from New York State shows that graduation rates in the Syracuse City School District improved last year but the district still has a lot of room for improvement. The four year graduation rate for students who began high school in the fall of 2007 was 48.4% in Syracuse. That is an improvement over the 45.9% graduation rate for students who started high school in the fall of 2006. That statewide graduation rate was 74%
Some Syracuse City Schools did better than others. The group of students who attended the Institute of Technology High School in Syracuse had an almost 70% graduation rate. Madeline Tremblay decided to send her children to ITC after learning about the smaller class size.
"I'm impressed with ITC. I think the smaller schools are the way to go for these kids because there's so many distractions in the bigger high schools," said Tremblay.
At Corcoran High School 57.7% of students graduated in four years. Nottingham High School was at 52.5% and Henninger High on the east side had a 48.9% graduation rate. The school district's director of secondary education said the numbers show the need for improvement as well as reason for optimism.
"I think we have a good shot at moving in the right direction, moving our schools forward to where we want them to be," said Brian Nolan.
Even considering the progress made by the Syracuse School District, it's clear where the greatest need is. Only 28.3% of Fowler High students graduated in four years and the school had a 40% drop out rate. A majority of students at the school live under the poverty line. Hanna Talbi, her husband and their two young children live right across the street. They hope the extensive renovation work currently taking place at the school will help turn it around. Their Talbi's daughters are excelling at school now and their parents would like to see that continue.
"I hear that people say the school has a problem now but they are working on it to make it good in the future," said Hanna Talbi.
If students who graduate high school later in August are factored in, Syracuse Schools move up to a 53% graduation rate.
For more information of graduation rates in Syracuse or at other New York State schools, you can view the Education Department's report here.