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Graduation rate for GESD drops 3 points

GLOVERSVILLE — The graduation rate at Gloversville High School as of June was down roughly three points from the previous year despite hopes from school administrators that the cancellation of Regents exams amidst the shift to remote learning due to the coronavirus would help boost overall graduation rates.

Gloversville High School Principal Richard DeMallie on Wednesday reported to the Gloversville Enlarged School District Board of Education that the school’s graduation rate for June came in at 71 percent with 143 students graduating, down from last year’s June graduation rate of 74 percent.

“We were very optimistic, but the cold hard reality is I don’t think it’s where we expected it to be,” said DeMallie.

A day earlier, DeMallie in a video posted to the district’s Facebook page reported the June graduation rate as 73 percent, but on Wednesday the high school principal said five students who were expected to turn in materials that would have enabled them to graduate on time, ultimately did not complete the required coursework.

“Five students who I thought were going to pull through and get stuff done at the finish line, it didn’t occur. That would have brought us to 73.5,” said DeMallie.

Although the overall graduation fell from the previous year, DeMallie noted that the June special education rate rose to 54 percent, up from 47 percent from June 2019.

“The high school is targeted for the special education population and its graduation rates specifically, so to make a six-point jump in one year, I’m going to call it a win,” said DeMallie.

“To take a couple points in the other direction on the graduation rate, obviously that’s not the direction we want to go in,” he added.

Following the announced cancellation of Regents exams in April due to the statewide closure of schools, DeMallie said educators were hopeful that students who found passing Regents exams to be a hurdle on their path to graduation would benefit from the move exempting all students grades seven through 12 from taking the exams this year as part of graduation requirements if they passed the associated course.

“I think there were assumptions made that when we were closed and some relief was given to Regents exams and things like that, that we would be able to boost that in a different direction,” said DeMallie. “The reality is if a student wasn’t working to their potential in front of me, they were definitely not going to do that in front of the computer.”

The high school graduation rate could still see improvement in August with 32 students enrolled in the district’s summer senior academy and 96 students enrolled in regional summer school through HFM BOCES for credit recovery.

“We’re still shooting for an 80 percent graduation rate,” said DeMallie.

And the forgiveness of Regents exams this year could still contribute to improved graduation rates at Gloversville High School in future years.

“Now you’ve got younger students who don’t have to take that one hurdle towards graduation, so these June graduation rates should become better because the Regents exam is a hurdle and now for some of them it won’t be,” said DeMallie.

Although the graduation rate fell slightly this year, the high school principal noted that a 71 percent graduation rate for June is far better than the rate of 56 percent the school experienced six or seven years earlier. He went on to thank school administrators, faculty and staff for their efforts to support students and help seniors “cross the finish line.”

“We scratch, claw and fight to get every percent that we have,” said DeMallie.

Superintendent David Halloran shared a similar perspective to DeMllie in describing GESD as similar to school districts across the state in hoping the cancellation of Regents exams would help boost graduation rates. The superintendent pointed to the continued necessity of ongoing efforts by district staffers to illustrate to students and families the importance of engaging with education whether in school or remotely.

“Kids who have a hard time getting here under the best circumstance did not open the Chromebook, did not engage in remote learning with teachers. I believe that’s why we did not see the results that we hoped to see. That’s unfortunate, but I guess in hindsight I’m not that surprised. It’s a challenge that long preceded the COVID and will be around long after COVID; to help our community value education, the importance of a quality education,” said Halloran.

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