New York Graduation Rate Ticks Higher

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New data released about the New York State class of 2014 shows a 1.5% increase in four-year graduation rates statewide, bringing the overall graduation rate to 76.4%.

The data is the first set available for students who started high school after the fall of 2010, the first class to enter high school after the adoption of the Common Core standards in the state.

“While the increased graduation rates are encouraging, nearly one in four students is not graduating after four years,” Education Commissioner John King Jr. said. “It is imperative that we continue to support districts as they fully implement the higher expectations the Board of Regents has set for students and educators.”

The graduation rate for that class is 10 points higher than the graduating class of 2001.

Of the Big Five districts, four of them, including New York City, Syracuse, Yonkers and Rochester, saw gains made this year.  New York City’s graduation rate rose from 61.3% to 64.2%, giving it the largest increase of the four.

The other district of the Big Five, Buffalo, saw its graduation rate decrease from 53.4% to 52.8%.  Acting Buffalo Superintendent Donald Ogilvie said the district would benefit from the introduction of career and technical graduation pathways in addition to extended programs that would increase learning time and place its focus on language and cultural differences present among the growing immigrant population.

Despite the increase, the percentage of students who earned a “college-ready” diploma remained at 31%, the same percentage as last year. While state officials are happy with the gains, they believe more work is needed.

“The reforms we started in 2010 are being put into practice every day in classrooms across the state, and we’re starting to see the benefits,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch said in a news release. “It is clear, however, that the work of implementing the higher standards is not done. The percentage of students earning Regents Diplomas with Advanced Designation remains flat. The Board of Regents is committed to making sure that all students have the opportunity to graduate ready for college or a career. That’s why we’re moving forward to create multiple pathways to graduation, each focused on a rigorous coursework and program of study.”

In addition, the data has shown a light on education problems in the state, including a number of high-needs districts being outperformed by more well-off districts, which remains around 30 percentage points.  Over 94% of students from well-off areas are graduating high schools compared to only 66% of high-needs children.  Also, double-digit gaps in the graduation rates of white students compared to minority students still exists, at about 25 percentage points for the graduation rate, according to Conor Skelding for CapitalNewYork.

Cuomo sent a letter to King last week promising “an aggressive legislative package to improve public education” and asking for suggestions pertaining to a number of education reforms the governor is considering, ranging from a new teacher evaluation system to fixing failing schools.

In the middle of all this, King has announced he is planning to resign from his position at the end of the year in order to be able to accept a high-profile education position with the Obama administration.