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ALBANY, N.Y. - There is good news and bad news to be found in the latest high school graduation rates released by the state's Education Department Monday.

Three out of four New York high-school students graduated on-time last school year, according to data released Monday by the Department.

WEB EXTRA: View graduation rates by district

Statewide, overall, the graduation rate saw a slight increase to 74.9% from 74% the year before. However, a large gap remains with those pursuing a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma, which requires completion of additional rigorous course work to prepare for colleges and careers. Blacks and Hispanic males in large city schools are at biggest risk for falling through that gap.

In Buffalo the graduation rate of those who entered 9th grade in 2009 was 56%, up from 47.8% the previous year. The high school graduation rate has been a roller coaster ride over the past five years.

57 percent in 2009 -- 49 percent in 2010 -- 55 percent in 2011 -- 47 percent in 2012 -- and 56 percent last year.

"While I'm glad the district has made some progress, it is woefully insufficient where it has landed," said Dr. Will Keresztes, the interim superintendent of Buffalo Schools, "whatever the things are that we did that may've triggered an increase in those numbers, first of all we better keep doing them that means we can't make cuts at schools that directly affect our seniors."

Interim Superintendent Will Keresztes Talks About 2013 Graduation Rates

The district credits some of the success to the Say Yes program, which encourages students to attend school and perform well and if they do, chances are they'll get much of their expenses in college paid for.

Keresztes also thanks former superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown for the jump in the graduation rate: "she was very assertive in putting together some programs and some initiatives in place to support students."

"One in four students still aren't graduating in four years," said state Education Commissioner John King. "And far too many students, even if they graduate from high school, still haven't completed the advanced and rigorous course work to be ready for college or the workplace. Today's numbers reinforce the urgency of implementation of the Common Core Standards. On the very positive side, the graduation rate for students who previously were in programs for English Language Learners demonstrates that all students thrive when provided with appropriate support services. The Board of Regents is taking steps to improve the delivery of all services and instruction."

In districts classified as "low need," the graduation rate was 94 percent. In "high need," mostly urban districts, the rate was 65.9 percent.

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