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Lea County schools top state graduation rate

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Lea County schools top state graduation rate

According to the New Mexico Public Education Department, each of Lea County’s school districts dramatically has a higher graduation rate than the state average.

In Hobbs, the graduation rate is 86 percent. In Lovington, it’s 85.6 percent. In Eunice, it’s 84 percent. The two smallest school districts show a larger grad rate, Jal (91.3) and Tatum (96 percent). To determine graduation rates, students who enter high school at the ninth-grade are tracked to determine how many graduate from high school in four, five or six years.

The state average rate is 71.1 percent in 2017.

At Hobbs High School, one of the largest high schools in the state, the graduation rate also includes statistics from the Alternative High School, which is a credit-recovery high school. Its graduation rate is not reported separately, but its data is included in the “regular” high school data.

Thursday, superintendent of schools TJ Parks said the district requested that the alternative high school be designated as a separate high school. However New Mexico Public Education Department denied the request.

Of the graduates, 81.1 percent are Caucasian, while 84.5 percent of students are identified as Hispanic. Almost 90 percent — 88.3 percent are female students, compared with 84 percent of male students.

Lovington High School’s grad rate would be higher if it didn’t include New Hope High School’s 40.8 percent rate said school superintendent LeAnne Gandy. New Hope is also a credit recovery high school.

“We consider every graduate from New Hope to be a victory for the district,” Gandy said.

Of Lovington’s total 2017 graduates, 85.6 percent are female compared with 76.3 percent of male students.

“The problem is that male students can go to work in the oil field without a high school diploma and make more money than their teachers do,” Gandy said. “They say, ‘I don’t need this’ and leave school to go to work. We’re going to be offering more electives next fall that we think will engage and be more relevant to boys and help to keep them in school.”

Of the total Caucasians, 77.7 percent graduated on time in 2017 and 81.9 percent of Hispanic students graduated on time.

In Eunice, 95 percent of the female students graduated, compared with 72.6 percent of male graduates.

Eunice Superintendent of schools, Dwain Haynes, said he is concerned with the discrepancy.

“Right now, I’m in the process of hiring a new high school principal,” Haynes said. “Next year, the new principal will be looking at our data. The new principal will address this problem and when we do our strategic planning, we’ll be looking at it, too.”

Tatum superintendent, Buddy Little, can boast county’s highest graduation rate. But like the other four districts, there is a disparity between the rate of females (100 percent) and males (90.4 percent).

“I guess some of the boys need to go to work to help their families,” Little surmised. “And there are more job opportunities for boys than for girls in the oil field. What we want is to graduate everyone.”

While 92 percent of the Caucasions graduated in Tatum, 100 percent of the Hispanic graduates walked away with diplomas.

In Jal, 93.8 percent of female students graduated on time, compared with 89.5 percent of males. The state gave no statistics on Caucasian graduation rates, but the Hispanic rate is 91.8 percent.

Jal Schools superintendent, Brian Snider said, “We’ve got a really high graduation rate and I’m really proud of it. There’s always room for improvement as long as it’s under 100 percent.”

The full graduation rate data by district and school for the 2017 class is found online at http://ped.state.nm.us/ped/Graduation_data.html.

Burkett Shaw
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