Despite having some of the most rigorous graduation requirements in the state, Las Cruces Public Schools had an 86.2 percent high school graduation rate for the graduating cohort of 2018, according to data released Tuesday by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The figure, which represents the highest four-year, high school graduation rate among New Mexico’s largest districts, well exceeded the state average of 73.9 percent, and sat just above the national average of 85 percent.

Graduates from Arrowhead Park Early College High School attend the school’s commencement ceremony on May 18, 2018.

“We are very proud to see the steady improvement in our graduation rate,” said Superintendent Greg Ewing. “This reflects the exceptional work of every teacher in the district, as well as principals, assistant principals, educational support personnel, and the administrative staff in Central Office who are committed to supporting our teachers and schools. Improving the graduation rate is achieved through the dedication and commitment of every teacher, K-12.”

According to the PED, a cohort is named according to students’ expected fourth year of high school. The 2018 cohort four-year graduation rate was based on ninth graders in 2014-15, 10th graders in 2015-16, 11th graders in 2016-17 and 12th graders in 2017-18.

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 associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“By offering engaging educational opportunities such as programs of study, dual-credit classes and blended and online learning, LCPS has been able to provide students more educational options and helped many to persist to graduation,” Miller-Tomlinson said.

She also explained that the district has implemented advising practices which allow any student who falls behind to be notified quickly and advised about credit recovery options that may be available.

The district’s 2018 graduation rate shows an improvement of nearly one percent over last year’s rate, a six-and-a-half percent improvement from the district’s 2015 graduation rate and a 12 percent improvement from the district’s 2014 graduation rate.

The national high school graduation rate, which is currently 85 percent, is at an all-time high for the country, after six consecutive years of increases, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

— Damien Willis, LCPS Director of Communications, 575-527-5811, dwillis@lcps.net