Despite having some of the most rigorous graduation requirements in the state, Las Cruces Public Schools had an 85.5 percent high school graduation rate for the graduating cohort of 2017, according to newly released data from the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED). The figure, which represents the highest four-year, high school graduation rate in New Mexico, well exceeded the state average of 71.1 percent, and sat just above the national average of 84 percent.

“The steady improvement of our graduation rate shows that our staff and students are committed to the learning process,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Ewing. “Our goal is not only to ensure that every student graduates, but that they graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful throughout their careers and lives.”

According to the newly released figures, four-year graduation rates at LCPS high schools were as follows: Arrowhead Park Early College High School, 94.7 percent; Centennial High School, 86.9 percent; Las Cruces High School, 87.6 percent; Mayfield High School, 86.8; Oñate High School, 85.6; and Rio Grande Preparatory Institute, 69.5 percent.

According to the PED, a cohort is named according to students’ expected fourth year of high school. The 2017 cohort four-year graduation rate was based on 9th graders in 2013-14, 10th graders in 2014-15, 11th graders in 2015-16 and 12th graders in 2016-17.

Although the state of New Mexico only requires a student to earn a total of 24 high school credits to graduate, students at LCPS high schools are required to earn a total of 29 credits, which represents the highest graduation credit requirement in the state, according to Dr. Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, LCPS assistant superintendent of teaching and learning.

“Our eight-period, A/B high school class schedule allows students to earn up to 32 credits throughout their high school career, while still giving them opportunities to take elective classes,” Miller-Tomlinson said. “In addition, offering engagement opportunities such as programs of study, dual-credit classes and blended and online learning, has given students more educational options and helped many to persist to graduation.”

In an effort to help ensure students graduate on time, Miller-Tomlinson explained that, “credit recovery classes were decentralized about four years ago. This allowed students to stay at their ‘home’ school to repeat failed courses after regular school hours, instead of attending night classes at a separate campus.” She also explained that the district implemented new advising practices so that any student who falls behind is quickly notified and advised about what credit recovery options are available.

“As an additional measure, we started using an algebra I course across the district that has improved student achievement in that course, which has historically been a gatekeeper to student achievement in high school,” Miller-Tomlinson said.

The district’s 2016 high school graduation rate shows a five-and-a-half percent improvement from the district’s 2015 graduation rate and an 11 percent improvement from the district’s 2014 graduation rate.

The national high school graduation rate, which is currently 84 percent, is at an all-time high for the country, after five straight years of increases, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Click here to view a detailed analysis and comparison chart of the LCPS graduation rates

-LCPS Communications Coordinator Paul Dahlgren, pdahlgren@lcps.net, (575) 527-5808