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Buffalo's growing racial gap: How big is it at your high school?

The state this week released a mountain of data that shows, among other things, that the racial gap for graduation rates in Buffalo has gotten slightly worse over the past few years.

The four-year graduation rate for black students in the Class of 2011 was 52 percent; for whites, 64 percent; Hispanics, 44 percent; and Asians, 51 percent.

McKinley gradThe gap between black and white students in the district increased from 10 to 12 points in the past four years; the gap between Hispanic and white students remained at 20 points.

When you look at individual schools in the city, an interesting picture emerges.

The bottom line, it seems, is that generally, whatever racial group constitutes the majority in a school ends up with the highest graduation rate in that building.

For instance, white students constituted the majority of the senior class at City Honors, South Park and da Vinci. They also had the highest graduation rate at each of those schools.

Black students had a higher graduation rate than white or Hispanic students at nine out of 16 high schools in the city: Bennett, Burgard, East, Emerson, Lafayette, McKinley, Occupational Training Center, Oracle Charter and Tapestry Charter.

Of those, Lafayette was the only school where blacks did not constitute the majority of the graduating class. (There were 71 Hispanic students in Lafayette's Class of 2011, and 70 black students.)

And at four high schools, Hispanic students had a higher graduation rate than white or black students at Hutch Tech, International Prep, Performing Arts and Riverside. At each of those schools, there were more black students in the graduating class than any other racial group.

Here are the details. (In cases where there were fewer than 10 students in a racial group at a school, the state suppressed the results, for privacy reasons. In those cases, there is an "n/a" listed.)

Enrollment Graduation rate

Black  Hispanic White Black  Hispanic White
Bennett 210 9 15 36% n/a 27%
Bflo Acad Sci Charter 53 3 5 74% n/a n/a
Burgard 110 12 16 35% 8% 19%
City Honors 34 7 74 88% n/a 97%
da Vinci 38 18 50 84% n/a 98%
East 163 4 12 41% n/a 25%
Emerson 69 12 27 68% 67% 59%
Hutch Tech 140 29 101 83% 86% 80%
Int'l Prep 46 19 12 46% 63% 42%
Lafayette 70 71 17 39% 21% 24%
McKinley 174 20 66 68% 55% 64%
MST Prep 64 3 6 69% n/a n/a
Occupational Trng Ctr 54 9 14 67% n/a 50%
Oracle Charter 49 12 8 63% 58% 63%
Performing Arts 98 13 35 70% 77% 66%
Riverside 103 47 52 28% 36% 33%
South Park 56 27 128 45% 44% 66%
Tapestry Charter 46 5 25 96% n/a 84%
WNY Maritime Charter 41 2 7 76% n/a n/a


(I focused on just the three racial groups because the number of Asian or American Indian students at most schools is so small that the state suppresses their graduation rates.)

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |