Graduation Rate Increases But Students Still Not College Ready, Data Show

By Jill Colvin on June 11, 2012 3:02pm | Updated on June 11, 2012 7:58pm

Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the numbers as evidence that schools continue to improve.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the numbers as evidence that schools continue to improve.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

CITY HALL — The city’s high school graduation rate is up slightly, nudging from 65.1 percent in 2010 to 65.5 percent last year. But less than a fourth of those who graduate are college-ready, according to new numbers released by the city and state Monday.

Of the students who entered ninth grade in 2007, 60.9 percent had graduated by June 2011, down 0.1 percent from the year before, the numbers show. If August graduates are included, that number hits 65.5 percent — a small boost from 2010.

Just 21.1 percent of city students reached the state's bar for being "college ready," meaning they earned a score of at least 75 on an English Regents exam and at least 80 in math — down from 21.9 in 2010.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged that "we still have more work to do," but he touted the gains — the 10th straight year for rising graduation levels and a 19-point boost since 2008 — as a reason for "our students, teachers and school administrators [to] be proud."

"More and more students are graduating even as the standard we’re asking them to meet get tougher and tougher,” he told reporters in Brooklyn at the former Bushwick High School Campus, where graduation rated jumped from 22.7 percent to 68.1 percent when the school was replaced by four smaller schools.

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott stressed that black and Hispanic students continue to make gains, though a large racial gap remains, with 78.9 percent of white students graduating versus 60.4 percent of black students and 59 percent of Hispanic students. Asian students led all groups, with a graduation rate of 82.9 percent.

Still, racial improvements lagged behind recent years, with no improvement for black students, who had an average graduation rate of 60.4 percent and a bump of just 0.8 percent for Hispanic students, whose graduation rate remained the lowest of any group, at 59 percent.

The teachers' union said the numbers represent a troubling trend.

"This report is not good news for Mayor Bloomberg," the union said in a statement, warning that parents should prepare themselves for bad news next year.

65.5 percent of city students who entered high school in 2008 will be graduating this year, new state numbers show.
65.5 percent of city students who entered high school in 2008 will be graduating this year, new state numbers show.
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Flickr/jeco

"Graduation standards are going up and these results indicate that the grad rate will very likely decline further next year."

Statewide, 76.8 percent of the students who started 9th grade in 2007 had graduated after four years by August 2011, compared with 74 percent who had graduated on time, in June — up slightly from last year on both counts.

Nonetheless, large racial gaps also remain at the state level, with a graduation rate for black and Hispanic students trailing whites by 27 percentage points.

"New York’s overall graduation rate has improved, but nearly a quarter of our students still don’t graduate after four years," Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement.

"These numbers make clear that we need to continue to pursue aggressive reforms in our schools including a new, richer curriculum and implementation of the new teacher evaluation law in districts across the state."

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