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Exemptions boost Buffalo Public Schools graduation rate

The pandemic forced the cancellation of Regents exams last year, which opened the door to many high school seniors graduating without having to pass the tests.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash was ecstatic. The city’s high school graduation rate last year jumped 11.6 percent – eight times greater than the increase statewide. Cash proclaimed he was “extraordinarily proud of the Class of 2020,” terming the increased graduation rate in the midst of the pandemic “a tremendous positive.”

Left unsaid: 22 percent of the graduating class – 423 students – was exempted from passing mandated Regents exams, which had been cancelled because of the pandemic. Instead, students needed only to receive a passing grade in their individual classes, and the district adopted a generous grading policy to help struggling students succeed.

“Those kind of grading policies are policies that help the school district,” said Sam Radford III, co-chair of We The Parents and immediate past president of the District Parent Coordinating Council in Buffalo. “It makes it seem like they’re accomplishing something.”

For more on this story, please visit the Investigative Post website.