U.S. high school graduation rates are much lower that education reformers would like them to be. But at the same time as record numbers of students are dropping out of high school, an alarming number are graduating without the skills necessary to be successful in college or a career.
To track how high school graduates were faring in post-secondary schools, the state of New York’s Department of Education formed a partnership with City University of New York. Recorded information regarding student achievement is made available to New York high schools to give them an idea of any deficiencies in their curriculum and where they might be. So far, too many students seem to be ill-prepared in the two major areas – math and English.
According to a Wall Street Journal report,
“Across the state, the graduation rate in 2009, the last year for which figures are public, was 77 percent. But only 41 percent of high school students were prepared for a career or college, the state said. The state defines students as college and career ready if they score at least an 80 on the state’s math Regents exam and at least a 75 on the English Regents exam. New York students receive a high school diploma if they achieve a score of at least 65 on Regents tests.
The state education department said that in New York City, only 23 percent of graduating high school students meet the college and career ready standard, compared with a graduation rate of 65 percent among general education students.”
Shael Polakow-Suransky, NYC’s chief academic officer said that “well before the state announced this plan, we told schools we would begin including robust college readiness metrics to school progress reports.”
The collected data details a variety of statistics. Only 49 percent of students enrolled in charter schools graduated, and just 10 percent of them were college and career ready. The rate of college readiness among minority students has been found to be significantly low as well. Only 15 percent of African-American students met the requirements to be considered college and career ready. In Syracuse, only 1 percent of Hispanic students were prepared at the level designated college-ready.
This information could mean that many education reformers have been correct to say that rather than focusing on improving graduation rates, the U.S. must first work to improve its standard of education. Higher numbers of underprepared graduates does not exactly equal progress.
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