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Superintendent Nagler Responds To Graduation Rate Report

New State Report Includes Five and Six-Year Completion Numbers

A recent article in Newsday prompted a response from Mineola School Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler at a recent meeting of the board of education. The article concerned New York State’s new method of reporting high school achievement, which includes the graduation rates for students who take five or six years to earn a diploma at the high school level.

“This is the first time I’ve seen the state report a six year outcome and a five year outcome,” Nagler said, noting that the Newsday report examined the portion of students in English as a second language (ESL) and special education areas. “I love chasing Newsday.”

The percentage of Mineola students receiving Regents diplomas is 98 percent, with a 1 percent number of “non-completers” or dropouts.

“Those are the kids that are finishing high school,” Dr. Nagler said of the former number, adding, “the state felt that this wasn’t good enough” and wanted to analyze the graduation data differently.

However the superintendent said Newsday reported the graduation rate for the entire district, including those students who face challenges such as ESL or are in special education classes.

“What Newsday reported was the entire Mineola School District; not just the high school,” he said. “So we have many students with disabilities that are outside the high school attending schools all over Nassau County. If they’re registered as our residents, they’re reported with our results.”

According to the report, 17 such students exist but don’t attend Mineola High School. Nagler stated that the district is responsible for them, but that reports should be able to point that out.

The superintendent stated that Mineola’s six year graduation outcome for 2004 is at 96 percent, while the five year figure for 2005 is 95 percent. The percentage drops for the fourth year 2006 number since the district still has, reportedly, 12 students enrolled for the next school year.

Nagler said this report is something the district would be seeing in every single grade or exam. He called it quite confusing.

“They seem to get more confusing as they go,” he said.

Newsday didn’t report six year outcomes from a class two years ago or five year outcomes; they reported this current class which for us we have exceptions to the rule,” Nagler said. “Does that mean our high school is a dropout factory? No, not even close to that.”

Nagler said that he would be producing a “more extensive” report to the board including a Northeast Evaluation Association  (NWEA) report, which according to Nagler shows growth in students.

“The Newsday report looked at a problem we as a school district have encountered for years,” Nagler said. “A group of our students take longer than four years to graduate. We have a good number of ESL and special education students that need a fifth year and sometimes a sixth year. But they stay enrolled in school, we work with them and they graduate.”