Higher Grad Rates at Some High Schools Set to Close

Seven out of 14 failing high schools the city wants to close posted higher on-time graduation rates last year — and advocates who have sued to keep the schools open says that's a good sign.

The schools include Beach Channel High School in Queens, where the on-time graduation rate in 2010 was 48.6 percent, a gain of more than 3 points from the previous year. When counting August graduates, the rate was 52.4 percent.

Christopher Petrillo, a John Jay college student who graduated from Beach Channel last year, said the school did well even without extra help from the city. The dropout rate at Beach Channel went down by almost four points to 15.7 percent.

"So if the resources are there the school will just become better than it is," he said.

There was a similar story at Christopher Columbus High in the Bronx, where the graduation rate went up by more than 10 points — when counting August grads — to 46.6 percent. 

"Imagine what it could be next year," said parent Belinda Brown, whose daughter is graduating this year. "But we'll never know."

Brown joined a lawsuit by the NAACP and the teachers union claiming the schools should have gotten more resources. It's scheduled to go to court Tuesday. The city said the schools have low-achievement rates and should be replaced with small new schools.

Although half the schools had gains in on-time graduation rates, only six were at or above 50 percent when counting August graduates and dropout rates went up at 10 of the schools.