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Saturday 16 December 2017
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Syracuse Successfully Eliminates Graduation Gap Between White and Black Students

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Bucking the national trend, Syracuse has successfully eliminated the gap between African American and caucasian graduation rates in the city school district.

In 2016, both white and black students had the same graduation rate of 64%. That’s especially impressive considering that while other cities across the nation have come close to narrowing the graduation gap, few have eliminated it entirely.

To put this accomplishment in perspective, the national graduation rate for white students is a full 13 percentage points above those of black students. Even though U.S. graduation rates were at an all-time high of 83% in 2015, there was still a racial disparity between students.

Syracuse is the only city in the state that boasts these statistics and follows closely in the footsteps of Baltimore, Cleveland, and Phoenix, all of which have successfully reversed the racial graduation gap in recent years.

The graduation gap is an important barrier to break because students who graduate or attend private high schools are much more likely to apply to higher education. According to National Center for Education Statistics data, 88% of private high school students apply to college, compared to 57% of public high school students. Because a majority of private high school students come from a wealthier socio-economic background, Syracuse bridging the graduation gap means that students from all backgrounds have an increased ability to attend college.

John Hopkins researcher Robert Balfanz explains to Syracuse.com that when black and white students are leaving high school on an even playing field, their chances of success are even greater.

“”You see the gaps narrowing but you still don’t see them closed all the way,” Balfanz said. “This sends a strong signal that everyone has a fair chance to make it.”

Because of the variety of ways that education statistics are reported, it can be hard to compare New York school systems to those in other states. That being said, while the Syracuse results may seem promising, they could be higher. Syracuse’s overall 64% graduation rate is still lower than the overall average of high school graduation in New York, which stands between 75% and 80%.

Even so, Balfanz has also studied so-called “dropout factories,” a group of about 1,000 schools where the graduation rates hover around 50-50.

As it stands, Syracuse is the largest city in New York state to close the graduation gap.

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