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Three of Four Students Not Prepared for College, City Says

Monday, October 24, 2011 - 10:50 PM

4:31 p.m. | Updated Three quarters of New York City students who were high school freshmen in 2006 did not leave high school prepared for college, new data from the city Education Department shows.

Still, of the students in that cohort, about 46 percent had enrolled in a two or four-year college by late 2010.

Officials and observers have long been lamenting that many New York City students who graduate from high school are not ready for college, but on Monday the city officially tallied for itself how many fit this description. Its metrics are based on students' Regents exam scores, as well as their performance on the SAT.

For some schools -- particularly those with high graduation rates and low college-readiness marks -- the data is likely to raise questions about the quality of the education they provide.

The percentage of city schools that received A's and B's on their progress reports this year dropped to 64 percent from 68 percent last year, a change city officials attributed to toughened graduation requirements.

Students who graduated in 2011 had to score a 65 or higher on four out of five Regents exams; previously, they were able to pass with a score of 55. City officials said that they also counted more students as dropouts this year who would previously have been categorized as "discharged."

City education officials said these factors and others led to a modest decline in the number of high schools earning top scores on the progress report, which measure their graduation rates and Regents exam passage rates.

The overall results were released by the city's Department of Education on Monday morning, with scores for individual schools coming later in the day. SchoolBook will update with specific results, and with trends, as the information is released and the data is scrutinized.

For your school's score, check its SchoolBook page, where results will be posted later on Monday, and use its "Start a Conversation" feature to Ask a Question, Post Something or Suggest an Idea.

The scores are not merely a temperature-reading of a school's progress; they are a large factor in whether a city will close or revamp a school. This year, 60 high schools scored low enough on the progress report to meet the city's standard for closure.

In total this year, 32.7 percent of schools received A's, 31.6 percent B's, 24 percent C's, 8.2 percent D's, and 3.6 percent F's.

In 2010, 38.3 percent had A's, 29.7 percent B's, 21.6 percent C's, 6.9 percent D's, and 3.6 percent F's.

Nearly half of the nearly 400 high schools that were graded this year maintained the same grade they had the year before. Three schools' grades rose by three grades or more, and six schools saw a decline of three grades or more.

This year, education officials have added a new piece of information to the reports: data on how well the schools prepared last June's graduates for college. As significant as that addition may sound, it will not affect schools' letter grades until 2012.

However, it is likely to highlight an already well-explored issue: the wide gap between New York City's rising graduation rate and the finding that most of those graduates are not ready for college-level work.

Over the summer, officials of the State Education Department reported that only 21 percent of city students who started high school in 2006 and graduated on time in 2010 were prepared for college. That standard comes from community colleges' discovery that by scoring a 75 on the English Regents and an 80 on the math Regents, students typically earn at least a C in a college course on the same subject. Below that, students are likely to require remediation, reducing their chances of eventually graduating.

By the city's own calculations, which factor in students' SAT scores and more recent data, 25 percent of those students are considered ready for college.

The city's new progress reports measure schools against that standard, among several others. They reveal the percentage of students who enrolled in high school in the fall of 2007 who scored above a three on an Advanced Placement exam, above a four on the International Baccalaureate exam, and above a 65 on the Regents exams in Algebra II, chemistry or physics. They also provide the percentage of these students who earned a C or higher in a course for college credit.

Going two years back, the reports also record the percentage of students who entered high school in 2006, graduated in 2010, and enrolled in a two- or four-year college by Dec. 31, 2010.

EDITOR'S NOTE: A caption has been changed to correct an error in describing the Start program at the City University of New York. It is a program to help students pass the entry-level reading, writing and math placement exams at CUNY, not a college readiness program.

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