Personal tools

Grad Rates on the Rise

Posted: May 5, 2022

Albuquerque High School, On the Rise

Albuquerque High, the district's oldest high school, saw a nearly 8% increase in its graduation rate from 2020 to 2022.

Transcript

[ Albuquerque Public Schools Graduation ]

[ APS celebrates an 80.3% graduation rate for the Class of 2021. ]

[ The APS graduation rate has improved for six consecutive years to 80.3%. ]

[ 80.3 percent ]

[ Ten of the district's comprehensive high schools saw improved graduation rates in 2021, as did four of its six magnet schools. ]

(Ryan Homistek, Principal:) Flexibility is vital right now because not every student walks in here with the same knowledge, the same experience.

[ Albuquerque High School graduation rate is 82.2% That is an increase of 7.9% ]

[ How as this accomplished? ]

- (Ryan:) Training for our staff, continuing culturally and linguistically response of education, as well as supporting our pre-AP and pre-honor students and selecting dual enrollment pathways. We have a lot to offer here. And, just figuring out how we could do things better for our students and engage our families, I think would be our biggest value.

[ At AHS, what works for students? ]

- (Ryan:) Our academic engagement, I'm very impressed with this. And I have been since the moment I walked in from our opportunities for honors and AP and enrichment programs, bilingual programs, performing arts programs. These are reasons why our students come to school. And, they see themselves in this area and that creates an avenue for success alone.

[ What about the basics? ]

- (Ryan:) We monitor students and probably the biggest area of focus and best place to track begins at ninth grade, when students are coming in. So, if we're able to know our ninth grade students, if we're able to engage them in clubs and activities then we're able to get them involved and make learning, make our school interesting, appealing, and help them identify with that as part of relating to be a Bulldog in Albuquerque High School.

[ How important is communication? ]

- (Ryan:) Well, I think we learned a lot about ourselves and about our students in the recent years with the trials that we faced. Credit recovery is a huge need and that's been a strategy that's been successful for us to do this in-person. I know the district offers it online but in-person is where that relationship and the application in academics meet.

[ Dedicated staff. Inclusivity. Credit recovery. Personal attention. ]

[ And, ethnic studies! How can you keep this momentum going? ]

- (Ryan:) I think creating the avenues of ethnic studies with Native American Studies, with our African American Studies, Mexican folklore and dance, Chicano Studies. These are programs that really help students who want to be in those seats and want them to go to class. So that's something that we wanna to continue.

[ Any advice for future graduates? Senior Perspective. ]

- (Leslie Bustillos, Senior:) I definitely recommend going to tutoring. Albuquerque High offers tutoring after school every day. And that has been my best friend, that and the teachers. So always try to have a good relationship with the teachers. Don't be afraid to reach out. And, yeah, go to tutoring.

- (Malcolm Parnall, Senior:) Well, academically you have to care. That's really the basic step. You have to care about your classes. You have to make sure that they're interesting. You have to make 'em interesting. And after you care, everything else kinda falls into place.

- (Leslie:) I was really shy in middle school. And then when I came into high school I decided I needed to challenge myself more because I wasn't gonna get anywhere like that. And joined student government. It'll push you to get out of your comfort zone. And, getting out of your comfort zone is what's gonna allow you to grow.

[ Congratulations to Albuquerque High School and all graduating seniors! ]

- (Ryan:) We have an amazing community. This is Bulldog City. And our community stands behind our students and they really stand behind our staff. Having that identity of being a student, and persevering and getting a taste of success like this – with our graduation rates being that evidence – is very true and something necessary for our school.

Learn More from AHS Principal & Students

Albuquerque High School’s six-year graduation rate rose by 7.9 percentage points to 82.2 percent, which is higher than the district average. Principal Ryan Homistek attributes that to a multifaceted approach that includes a robust advisory structure and early warning system, daily tutoring, social-emotional support, staff training, and credit recovery programs for students who fell a little behind.

You Have to Care

“Academically, you have to care,” says senior Malcolm Parnell. “That’s really the basic step. You have to care about your classes; you have to make sure they’re interesting; you have to make them interesting. After you care, everything else kind of falls into place.”

Finding ways to make students care about classes and grades is something Homistek has accomplished through connecting with the student body on an individual level. “If we’re able to know our 9th-grade students, if we’re able to engage them in clubs and activities, then we’re able to get them involved and make learning and our school interesting and appealing,” he says. 

Parnell agrees, stating the academic requirements to participate in team sports were incentives to do well.

Academic programs inspired senior Leslie Bustillos to attend Albuquerque High and perform well. “It’s actually part of the reason why I came to this school because they have a really good bilingual program,” she says. “Being in that has motivated me to keep my grades up because a lot of the requirements have to do with grades, so that has been one of my biggest motivations.”

Culturally & Linguistically Responsive 

Principal Homistek says culturally and linguistically responsive education engages the diverse students within the school system, and offerings of ethnic studies, Native American studies, Mexican folklore and dance, and Chicano studies have paid off. “These are programs that really help students want to be in those seats and go to class,” he says. “That creates an avenue for success alone, and it’s something we want to continue.”

Classes with a cultural focus help students do better in school academically and also help them succeed socially. Bustillos says, “Within Albuquerque High, I’ve been able to find a community of like-minded students. The bilingual program, specifically, is more oriented toward my culture, and it was really nice to have a place to fit in.”

A Tradition of Academic Excellence 

Homistek says the school's improved graduation rate means students who once were struggling are now succeeding. “If our rates are higher,” he says, "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. We have a tradition of academic excellence. We have pride, and we have a very strong academic and social community, and that just tells us that it’s working.”