By Heather Grossmann
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — The city’s graduation rate rose to 59 percent for the fifth year in 2009 and the drop-out rate has been cut roughly in half since 2005, the mayor announced with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein on Tuesday.
The data released by the state’s education department is good news for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, which has staked much of its reputation on its success with the New York City public school system since Bloomberg instituted mayoral control in 2002.
“We won’t be satisfied until every student graduates from high school, but our City’s principals and teachers deserve enormous credit for the significant progress we’ve made,” Bloomberg said, standing with a phalanx of city school principals and Chancellor Klein at an afternoon press conference at City Hall.
Graduation rates among minority groups also improved, with rates for Hispanic students above 50 percent for the first time ever.
Additionally, a record 44.6 percent of students earned a prestigious Regents diploma, compared to just 30 percent in 2005.
Critics of the current system, including education historian Diane Ravitch, have said in the past that the city’s graduation rates are inflated because of a program called “credit recovery.”
The program allows students who fail classes to make up the credits in supervised settings outside the classroom. Critics also say the numbers are inflated because they count “discharges” — students who have left the schools and supposedly transferred.
“Our critics like to harp on a lot of things,” Klein said in answer to a question about discharges, but he said the numbers were down and he was happy to make all of that data available to the public.