In light of high school commencement ceremonies scheduled for this weekend, now is a good time to reflect on graduation rates.
In the Gloversville Enlarged School District, the Board of Education and administration are talking about ways to raise the graduation rate. The district had the lowest rate - 54 percent - in Fulton County for the 2010-11 school year.
Rates at other schools were similarly disappointing.
Johnstown schools graduated only 68 percent of their students last June, while Amsterdam graduated only 62 percent. Oppenheim-Ephratah, the only district in Fulton County in which voters rejected two recent school budget proposals, graduated only 59 percent.
Many factors can affect graduation rates, and it may be unfair to compare districts with each other as they each have varying class sizes. It also should be noted these figures reflect only students who graduated on time in June 2011 after four years of high school. Counting students who graduated in August 2011 improves districts' scores by a few percentage points.
Statewide, about three out of four students who entered high school in 2007 graduated. That's slightly higher than last year - up from 73.5 percent to 74 percent. But state Education Department officials noted many of the students who did earn a diploma were not ready for college courses.
Since 46 percent of Gloversville students who entered high school four years earlier as the class of 2011 did not graduate on time, it may be tempting to criticize the entire district. But we urge the community to look beyond the surface and recognize the accomplishments of those who do graduate and take advantage of the resources local districts offer.
Gloversville, for instance, is one of the few districts offering a Latin program. The district also offers accelerated courses to students who are up to the challenge. One of the district's successful students this year is Cody Webber, the valedictorian, who represented Gloversville in a positive light as the top scholar-athlete in the Capital Region for football.
Our local schools offer opportunities to students who seek ways to improve themselves. Many districts have the Project Lead the Way curriculum, a national program designed to engage students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Districts also offer college-level classes such as Syracuse University Project Advance, AP courses and College in the High School. In addition, the various music groups and student clubs that teens participate in further polish their educations.
Parts of the system are broken, and fundamental changes are required to give students an education with which they can compete globally. But on this graduation weekend, in the midst of disappointing statistics for some of our local schools, we also can see a lot of good. Over the next few days, we will celebrate the talent, persistence, intelligence and dedication of our local graduates.