Statewide, almost 72 percent of the students who started 9th grade in 2005 had graduated after 4 years, by June 2009. This is compared with a 66 percent graduation rate for students who started 9th grade in 2001.
According to The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University and the Urban Institute, half or more of Black, Hispanic and Native American youth in the United States are getting left behind before high school graduation in a “hidden crisis” that is obscured by U.S. Department of Education regulations issued under the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) Act that “allow schools, districts, and states to all but eliminate graduation rate accountability for minority subgroups.
The graduation rates tell only half of this story. The other half is just how much did the students learn? I highlight our graduation rate because I believe that it is an indicator of our health as a society. For now, my concern is our HS graduation rate in New Rochelle. The NYS Education Department released it's HS graduation statistics yesterday. As we deliberate on how best to spend the taxes collected by members of our community, please consider the following numbers. Let me know if they upset you as they have me. Note that in NRHS, we have over 3,400 students. Roughly 60% are students of color - that's over 2,000 students. Over the last several years, I have asked questions about our graduation rates here in New Rochelle. I wanted to know what was being done to improve upon these critical numbers. The answers provided were always the same. Nothing new; nothing different. It seemed that no one knew how to address the question from a strategic, short or long term solution perspective. No focus group; no risk taking with different initiatives. Meanwhile, our children languished. Mind you that we are not expecting dramatic improvements, just modest; optimistic improvements and a public recognition that we have a problem AND that we have a plan. Look at these numbers and discuss with your school board.
The Graduation Outcome for 2005 cohort (HS Students who graduated in June 2009 - Note I am only focusing on Black and Hispanic students):
New Rochelle - HS 55% of Black students graduated while 51% of Hispanic students graduated on time. Yes the district will say that these numbers are a bit higher when you look at August or 5 year graduation or even yet 6 year graduation. Are they really? Did you know that the June graduation ceremony includes students who have not met their graduation requirements - It is not a certified graduation! Is this fair for the students who work hard and are eligible to graduate on time?
Let's look at other HS schools with similarly situated demographics or as we prefer to say in New Rochelle "diverse communities":
* Port Chester graduated 65% of Black Students and 68% of their Hispanic Students.
* White Plains graduated 70% of Black Students and 70% of their Hispanic Students.
* Ossining graduated 69% of Black Students and 65% of their Hispanic Students.
* Mt Vernon graduated 65% of Black Students and 50% of their Hispanic Students
Go to www.nysed.gov - Report Cards and check other schools throughout NY state.
By the way, our overall graduation rate, which includes all students is 66%.