The Cohoes graduation rate reached a ten-year high 84 percent according to data released last week by the New York State Education Department.
The rate also indicates a 13 percent increase from the previous year.
“It was nice to see validation for all of the hard work our students, teachers and administrators have done,” said Superintendent Jennifer Spring. “This is the result of our staff creating personal and positive relationships with our families and instilling a culture of high expectations,
The district narrowly topped the statewide graduation rate which stands at 83 percent, according to NYSED.
“This is a reflection of the hard work put in by our entire staff,” High School Principal Bryan Wood said. “They worked collectively to meet the individual needs of every student and provide a more personalized path toward graduation.”
According to Wood, the personalized pathways include programs like AIM (Achievement, Integrity, Making a Difference) and CARE (Center for Achievement, Resources and Enrichment), which provide enhanced support for students in danger of failing academically.
For high-achieving students, the district now offers more than 20 dual credit courses and has seen an increase in Advanced Placement course enrollment.
Other students are finding inspiration in vocational training opportunities through Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School.
“We see a lot of students really buy-in to school junior and senior years because they’re pursuing a trade they’re really passionate about,” said Assistant Principal Laura Tarlo.
School leaders are convinced the personalized approach to learning is having a positive impact.
“Some students are paired with a teacher that they’re close with,” Tarlo said. “If the student misses a day or two they’ll send an email or text. Or they sit down to look at their grades and see where they might need help. It comes down to relationships.”
“When kids feel connected and have a sense of belonging it helps a lot,” Wood added.
Last year’s graduating class was the first to take advantage of the SAT being offered on campus during the school day. Not only did the Class of 2019 raise the bar on its graduation rate, 68 percent of graduates indicated that they intend to pursue a 2- or 4-year college degree.
Now that a new bar has been set, district leaders want to see sustained success.
“Realistically, we’re looking to have at least two years in a row around 84 or 85 percent,” Spring said. “It will show that the increase in student achievement is sustainable and not just a blip. From there, we’ll continue to be innovative and aim for a 100 percent graduation rate.”