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The Rochester City School District’s 2011 graduate rate is projected to fall to 49.4 percent, according to Rochester City Newspaper. The August 2010 graduation rate was 51 percent.

“It’s been a prediction for a very long time,” said school board member Willa Powell. That’s because local diplomas were phased out and students have to score at least a 65 percent on Regents exams. “Students also have to be counted (in our graduation rate) if they show up for only one day.”

Powell said she would be relieved if the final graduation rate figure calculated by the state doesn’t come in even lower.

The prospects for the Class of 2012 are not much better. At the beginning of the school year, only one-third of seniors were on track to graduate on time. Schools with graduation rates below 60 percent for three years in a row risk having their principals removed.

“People are doing more than ever before to get kids to succeed,” said Powell. “If we did nothing, our graduation rates would look even more abysmal. Failure is built in with No Child Left Behind.”

If this data becomes official, the district hasn’t moved the needle on graduation rates. It also means Jean-Claude Brizard’s tenure didn’t have an impact in this area, although he claimed success at eventually getting more students across the finish line.

August graduation rates:

2008: 52 percent

2009: 46 percent

2010: 51 percent

2011: 49 percent (projected)

Update: Read the district’s projections on the 13WHAM News site.