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PR- 306-08
August 11, 2008


Uninterrupted Climb since the Start of Mayoral Control; Drop-out Rate Declines

City's Gains Outpace the Rest of New York State's

Black and Hispanic Students Narrow the Gap with White and Asian Peers

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that New York City’s four-year high school graduation rate continues to push upward, as it has every year under the Administration. The City’s four-year rate reached a new high of 55.8 percent in 2007, according to data released this morning by the New York State Education Department, with more students earning Regents diplomas and black and Hispanic students narrowing the graduation gap with their white and Asian peers. The State’s rates now include students who met graduation requirements in summer school following their senior year. Excluding these students to allow for comparisons with previous years, the City’s graduation rate has risen 5.7 percentage points since 2005, and 2.4 points since 2006. By comparison, graduation rates Statewide have risen by 2.8 points since 2005 and 1.4 points since 2006. The City’s increases translate into more than 5,000 additional students graduating since 2005. In addition, the City’s dropout rate has declined since 2005 by 3.3 points, to 14.7 percent from 18 percent. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined at Department of Education headquarters in the Tweed Courthouse by Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, United Federation of Teachers (UFT) President Randi Weingarten, UFT Chief Operating Office Michael Mulgrew, and Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) Executive Vice President Peter McNally.

"The graduation rate is a crucial indicator of whether our school system is fulfilling its core mission - giving our children the skills they need to become successful adults," said Mayor Bloomberg. "After a decade of near-stagnation, New York City's graduation rate has climbed significantly since 2002. We clearly need to help larger numbers of students to graduate, but the progress we've made so far means that thousands more students are graduating today than would have six years ago."

"Today's numbers confirm once again that steady progress is now the rule, not the exception, in New York City's public schools," said Chancellor Klein. "Although I'm pleased that the overall graduation rate is continuing to rise, it's especially encouraging to see that the biggest increases are among our black and Hispanic students. This is further evidence that we're beginning to close the shameful racial achievement gap in this City."

Because this is the first year that the State included in its calculation students who graduated in August after their final semester, comparisons to previous years must exclude August graduates. Excluding those students, the City's four-year graduation rate rose to 52.2 percent in 2007 from 49.8 percent in 2006 and 46.5 percent in 2005. At the same time, the dropout rate fell to 14.7 percent in 2007, down from 15 percent in 2006 and 18 percent in 2005. The five-year graduation rate rose to 59.5 percent in 2007 from 55.7 percent in 2006.

"Today is a day to congratulate teachers, principals, students and parents for all their hard work in keeping the graduation rate going in the right direction," said UFT President Randi Weingarten. "Tomorrow we must ask ourselves what more can we do to get our kids ready for college, to enter the workforce, to improve their life skills? That's going to require continued collaboration by everyone with a stake in our kids' education, and in so doing we will dramatically increase the graduation rates."

"We are seeing gradual, steady increases in student graduation rates because school leaders, teachers and parents are truly working together to improve student learning and ensure every child receives a quality education," said CSA Executive Vice President Peter McNally. "Student achievement has always been a priority for school leaders, and while there is still more work to be done, with the proper resources we will continue to make progress."

The percentage of graduates earning Regents diplomas has increased along with the overall graduation rate. A new high of 69.8 percent of graduates in 2007 earned a Regents diploma, compared to 68.4 percent in 2006 and 64.3 percent in 2005 - a 5.5 percentage point increase over two years. Students must meet more rigorous graduation requirements, including higher scores on their Regents exams, to earn a Regents diploma.

The four-year graduation rate among black and Hispanic students is increasing faster than that of their white and Asian peers. Overall, 47.2 percent of black students in 2007 graduated in four years, compared to 43.5 percent in 2006 and 40.2 percent in 2005. This 7.0 point increase over two years compares to a 4.7 increase among white students and a 4.5 increase among Asian students during the same period. Overall, 43 percent of Hispanic students in 2007 graduated in four years, compared to 41 percent in 2006 and 37.4 percent in 2005, an increase of 5.6 points. Between 2005 and 2007, the gap in the graduation rate between white and black students was reduced by 2.3 percentage points, and the gap between white and Hispanic students was reduced by 0.9 points.

The graduation rate among English Language Learners rose 3.1 points to 23.5 in 2007, after falling from 26.5 percent in 2005 to 20.4 percent in 2006. The graduation rate among special education students rose to 19.8 percent in 2007 from 19.4 percent in 2006 and 17.2 percent in 2005, a two-year increase of 2.6 percentage points.

Beginning this year, the City and the State are using a shared methodology to calculate graduation rates. Previously, the City used its own methodology to calculate the rate. Because this formula remained unchanged since 1986; it is still useful for comparisons over time. Using the City's formula, the graduation rate rose from 58 percent to 62 percent between 2005 and 2007, an increase that tracks closely to the State's calculation. Since the Mayor won control of the school system in 2002, the graduation rate has increased 11.2 points, using the City's methodology, from 50.8 percent to 62 percent. Conversely, the graduation rate had been essentially stagnant over the decade prior to 2002.



Stu Loeser / Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958

David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

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