New York high school graduation rates last year remained at 74 percent, the same as the rate for those who graduated in 2011 after four years, but striking achievement gaps show minorities, English language learners and students with disabilities behind their peers.
The rates of students who are considered ready for college or careers remain low, and the state’s “Big 5” school districts saw decreases, particularly in Buffalo.
Graduation rates in New York City, Yonkers and Syracuse, whose rates are lower than the statewide average, dropped by less than a percentage point from 2011. But in Buffalo, the rate dropped by more than seven percentage points, from 54 percent in 2011 to 46.8 percent in 2012. In Rochester, the rates dropped from 45.5 percent in 2011 to 43.4 percent in 2012.
The state also tracks how many students are graduating on track to succeed in college or in a career. Those rates are significantly lower across the board.
Statewide, about 35.3 percent of graduates in 2012 were considered ready for college or a career. In Rochester, only 5.8 percent of graduates were college- or career-ready, the lowest of the “Big 5.” In New York City, that number was 21.9 percent; in Yonkers, 22.8 percent; in Buffalo, 9.7 percent; and in Syracuse, 7 percent.
State Education Commissioner John King touted the stability of the overall graduation rates, given that academic standards have toughened in the past four years. He stressed the importance of implementing the new, more difficult Common Core curriculum, on which third through eighth graders’ tests were based this April. High school students will begin taking Common Core exams next school year.
But he said the rates of college- and career-readiness among New York’s high school students are “painfully low.”
“In Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse, less than 10 percent of the students graduate ready for the challenges of college or today’s high-skilled jobs,” he said in a statement Monday. “Those are more than just numbers; those numbers represent thousands of students whose futures are diminished. We have to keep pushing forward with the Regents’ reforms and the shift to the Common Core standards.
“Our state has some of the highest performing districts and schools in the country, but far too many children in New York are being denied the educational opportunity they need and deserve,” King continued.
Achievement gaps between white students and minorities persist, and students with disabilities or those whose first language is not English continue to lag their peers.
About 58.1 percent of black students in New York graduated in 2012 after four years, compared with 85.7 percent of white students. The rate for Hispanic students was lower, at 57.8 percent. Asian students fared better than the statewide average, with about 81.6 percent graduating in four years.
Only 34.3 percent of English language learners and 44.7 percent of students with disabilities graduated in four years in 2012, compared to 79.3 percent of students in general education courses. Far fewer of those students were prepared for college or a career.