High schools boast top grad rates

Local public high schools have sky-high graduation rates, including two—Boston Latin School and the Kennedy Academy for Health Careers—that top the 2011 list.

New Mission High ranked highly as well, graduating almost 88 percent of its students within four years.

They were part of an uptick that pushed the Boston Public Schools (BPS) overall graduation rate to 64.4 percent—an “all-time high,” according to a press release, though spokesperson Matt Wilder could not say how long BPS has counted.

“This is positive news, and it shows that the quality of our schools is continuing to improve,” said Mayor Thomas Menino in a press release. “We’re seeing more and more of our high schools outperform other districts across the state, indicating that our efforts are having a real impact.”

BPS is attributing much of the success to “credit recovery” programs, which give a second chance to students who failed or dropped out of classes.

The Longwood Medical Area-based Boston Latin, legendary as the first public school in America, is an exam school and, unsurprisingly, had a 98.7 percent graduation rate. It was number two on the list.

The Kennedy Academy, a charter school run jointly with Northeastern University (NU), had a perfect 100 percent graduation rate. The NU-based school is slated to expand into Mission Hill’s shuttered Farragut Elementary School building this year.

New Mission is slated to move next year, relocating to Hyde Park in a controversial move. It will be replaced at 67 Alleghany St. by Fenway High, which had a graduation rate of nearly 83 percent.

The Kennedy Academy and New Mission “certainly are Boston Public Schools success stories,” Wilder said. “Those are two schools we know are highly successful and highly sought-after.”

BPS’s 64.4 percent graduation rate is up 1.2 percent from 2010 and up 6 percent from 2007. Of the students who did not graduate in 2011, 17 percent stayed in school to finish up, according to BPS.

Some schools in other neighborhoods had far worse graduation rates. While 64.4 percent is the overall rate, the median rate is just under 60 percent, by the Gazette’s calcuation.

Wilder noted that some BPS schools serve special needs students who may take longer to graduate. He also noted that school-to-school and year-to-year comparisons can be tricky because class sizes vary each year.

“We’re not claiming success yet,” said Wilder, noting that BPS has a goal of reaching an 80 percent graduation rate by 2014.

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