New York City's graduation rates flatten after six years of growth

After years of steady improvement, the city’s 4-year high school graduation rate flattened in 2011, according to new figures released by the state today.

Of students who entered high school in 2007, 60.9 percent graduated four years later, according to the new figures. When August graduates are included, the rate rises to 65.5 percent.

Sixty-one percent of students who entered city high schools in 2006 graduated on time in 2010. That year’s graduation rate with August graduates included was 65.1 percent.

The plateau comes after six years of growth that saw graduation rates rise from 46.5 percent in 2005 to 61 percent last year. Before that, graduation rates were stagnant for a decade and its steady improvement over the past six years has been one of the Bloomberg administration’s cornerstone achievements to cite in defending its education policies.

And as graduation standards increase, the flattened figures aren’t likely to resume that rate of improvement in coming years. Graduation could drop by as much as much as 10 percent next year. That’s the percentage of high school students – or about 8,000 students – who graduated with a local diploma, which allowed them to graduate despite scoring under 65 on one Regents exam. The local diploma has been phased out and the option won’t be available to this year’s students.Graduation rate fell slightly for black students – from 60.6 percent to 60.4 percent – and grew slightly for white, Asian and Hispanic students. The city’s college-readiness rate also fell slightly, from 21.4 percent to 20.7 percent.

Most of the state’s other large urban districts saw more significant increases in their graduation figures. Those districts collectively improved by about 6 percent.

As usual, the city will be holding a press conference to offer its take on the graduation data. Just minutes after the state released the graduation data, Department of Education officials posted a slideshow presentation that highlights some of the city’s gains. For instance, a higher rate of students are graduating with more rigorous diplomas and graduation rates in the city’s newer schools are significantly higher than the low-performing ones they replaced.

To highlight this growth, this afternoon’s press conference will take place in the old Bushwick High School building, where three smaller schools are now at capacity.


What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

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School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.