Graduates, but Ill-Prepared
Big Disparity Reported Between Getting a Diploma and College-Readiness Rates
Across the state, the graduation rate in 2009, the last year for which figures are public, was 77%. But only 41% of high-school students were prepared for a career or college, the state said. The state defines students as college- and career-ready if they score at least an 80 on the state's math Regents exam and at least a 75 on the English Regents exam. New York students receive a high-school diploma if they achieve a score of at least 65 on Regents tests.
The state education department said that in New York City, only 23% of graduating high-school students meet the college- and career-ready standard, compared with a graduation rate of 65% among general-education students.
Some ethnic and racial groups fared worse than others. While statewide the published graduation rate among black students is 62%, only 15% are considered college- and career-ready. In Syracuse, only 1% of Hispanic students graduated from high school at college- and career-ready level.
Charter schools in the state, which posted a 49% graduation rate, have a 10% college- and career-ready rate, according to the education department.
City officials said they are already ahead of the state in recognizing the problem. "Well before the state announced this plan, we told schools we would begin including robust college readiness metrics to school progress reports," said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city's chief academic officer. In 2008, the city's DOE formed a partnership with City University of New York to track how its graduates were doing in city colleges, and began sharing that information with the graduates' high schools so they could address deficiencies.
Brian Rosenbloom, principal of Chelsea High School in SoHo, said he's all for raising the standards, as long as it doesn't happen overnight. "The kids can handle it," he said, "provided the adults can do it the right way."
The state changed third- through eighth-grade proficiency standards dramatically this summer, resulting in hundreds of thousands of children suddenly being deemed behind grade level. The number of third- through eighth-grade students in the state called proficient in English, for instance, fell from 77% to 53%.
At the high-school level, other major cities performed worse than New York. In Rochester, which posted a graduation rate of 47%, only 5% of students are considered college- and career-ready by the state's standards.
"College- and career-ready" have become national buzzwords since the Obama administration set them as the new goal that must be at the forefront of efforts to overhaul public education. Last summer, the chancellor of the New York Board of Regents, Merryl Tisch, said she envisioned the state providing two types of diplomas: one marked "college ready," and one that is not.