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Few Students Graduate Ready for College, Says State

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Columbia University Columbia University (Wally Gobetz/flickr)

Fewer than 23 percent of New York City's public high school students graduate from high school ready for college or work, according to the state education department. That contrasts with the city's official on-time graduation rate of about 65 percent.

Neither figure includes special education students.

The state defines college-ready as earning an 80 or better on the Regents math exam and 75 or better in English. It looked at students who enrolled in high school in 2005 and graduated in 2009.

The Board of Regents is examining these findings because it's gradually phasing in higher standards to prepare all students for college or work. It may also decide to list two different sets of graduation data to show how many students are reaching these standards in each high school and district. A public hearing will be held in Long Island on Thursday and the Regents are planning another hearing in New York City next week.

Statewide,  41 percent of graduating seniors are ready for college or work compared to an actual graduation rate of 76.8 percent, according to the same analysis provided to the Board of Regents. The college-readiness rates were lowest in Rochester (5.1 percent), Syracuse (14.7 percent) and Buffalo (15.6 percent). They were highest, at 72.3 percent, in districts the state considers "low need" because they have few students in poverty. Only about 10 percent of charter school graduates were considered college ready by the state.

But the city's Department of Education said college readiness should mean more than just how students perform on two Regents exams. It's already begun tracking and grading high schools by looking at a range of metrics including credit accumulation and what percentage of students take and perform well on rigorous exams such as Advanced Placement or advanced math and science Regents.

Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said the city announced these plans last year, well before the state provided this new breakdown of college readiness.

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