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Grad Rates on the Rise

Posted: May 5, 2022

Grad Rates on the Rise

Principals, staff, and students at five schools that have seen increasing success over the years offer advice on earning a high school diploma.

The Albuquerque Public Schools' four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2021 was 80.3% (when excluding charter schools). It increased by more than 14 percentage points in seven years. We reached out to successful principals and members of the Class of 2022 to get advice for succeeding in high school and earning a diploma.

APS Graduation Rates Continue to Improve


[ Albuquerque Public Schools Graduation ]

[ For the sixth straight year, the graduation rate for Albuquerque Public Schools has improved, increasing to nearly 76% for the Class of 2021. ]

[ The District's 4-year graduation rate increased 14 percentage points in 7 years, going from 61.7% for the Class of 2015 to 75.7% for the Class of 2021. ]

[ When excluding charter schools, the APS graduation rate increased by more than three percentage points to 80.3% in 2021. ]

[ APS has limited academic control over charter schools and its graduation rate typically is several percentage points higher when they are extracted. ]

[ An 80% graduation rate is unprecedented for APS. ]

[ There's a lot to celebrate and an entire community to thank and cheer on as the work continues. ]

- (Narrator:) In ordinary times, improved graduation rates at 10 of the district's 13 comprehensive high schools and four of its magnet schools would be impressive. As APS Superintendent Scott Elder points out, nothing of late has been normal or ordinary making the 80% graduation rate more meaningful than ever.

- (Scott Elder, Superintendent:) It's really a collaborative. It's exciting to get to a number, but this has been building. We've been increasing our grad rates now for a long time. If you go back and watch over the last five, six years, you see the rates go up, and that's because the efforts of the people at the schools. I think you're absolutely right, the families are buying in and they're saying, "No, I want my kid to graduate." They recognize that it makes a difference in their future life and it's just so important. I'm really pleased to get here and I hope we continue to improve.

- (Ed Bortot, Del Norte Principal:) It's about creating positive relationships and knowing that you're not just a number on this campus. We know you. We know who you are when we bring you in. We care about you. It's about a belief system. It's about telling our kids, number one, "We believe in you. We know you can do this." Above all else we give them the belief system for them to believe in themselves.

- (Narrator:) At Del Norte, where 98% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch, the high school's graduation rate increased by 12% in one year, the biggest jump in the district. Principal Ed Bortot has a long list of initiatives designed to help students graduate, and on his campus, learning is fun.

- (Ed:) We want to continue to make school alive for our students. Another thing would be too is the multiple electives that we have. We have the biggest eSports team, and it's in the master schedule. I bet you, nobody in APS has a skateboarding class. We do.

You can go out there in the afternoons and they make the ramps with the woods. They have ramps out there and they tear it up. We have certain electives like Avid or Yearbook and things like that too as well, but we have Educators Rising for teacher cadets. When you make electives that are appealing to students, students come to school. They like those electives, which trickles down into their course.

- (Narrator:) Dedicated staff, credit recovery courses, injections of federal funds for programs like free summer school, unique electives to engage students and tutors, all factored into the district's 2021 80% graduation rate.

- (Scott:) I would say it's highly gratifying and it just reflects the incredible work the people at the schools are doing, the principals, the teachers, the counselors, the nurses, the EAs, custodians, everybody, to try to create an environment for our kids that's safe and an environment where they can learn and that they want to be there. That's hard, but that's been the focus and that will continue to be the focus.

- (Narrator:) Every campus had and has a plan with the shared goal to see more students graduate and the goal to see more students succeed in futures of their choice. Everyone agrees partnerships are key.

- (Scott:) I think the biggest lesson we learned was the tremendous importance of relationships and the need to have that communication with the child, to understand the child, and for the family to understand what the school's trying to do, and really try to build much stronger bridges between home and school.

- (Narrator:) To hear from other successful APS school principals who hit milestone graduation rates this year please visit the graduation 2022 section of

Graduation Rate Comparisons

Find all Class of 2021 graduation rates by school and student group and comparisons to previous years.

High School Spotlights

Del Norte High School

“Our graduation rate was 56 percent when I arrived at Del Norte in 2019. The goal was to increase the rate by 3 percent a year, but we’re already at 12 percent. And an increase over three to five years is sustainable change.” — Principal Edward Bortot. 

Volcano Vista High School

“We focus on the whole student, their social-emotional well-being—especially coming back from COVID, so I think the staff has really taken each student at their own pace and really reached out and made sure that they were receiving the supports they needed to be successful.” — Principal Melissa Sedillo

eCADEMY High School

“We support our full-time students who have come to us, but we also support the concurrent or part-time students who enroll with us to support the graduation rate at the other high schools.” — Principal Erin Easley

Atrisco Heritage Academy

“We have a really robust family center, dean of students, and coordinators of different areas. We tasked them with a list of students who were our highest need, reached out, and were able to bring those students back into the school.” — Principal Irene Cisneros

Albuquerque High School

“If our rates are higher, that means we’re getting more of our students who maybe at one point didn’t believe that they could do it or didn’t have the resources to do it—we’re helping them get there as a community. That’s what Albuquerque High School is all about." — Principal Ryan Homistek