Sunday, August 17, 2008

Are The NYC High School Graduation Rates Real? Or Just "Smoke & Mirrors"?

The Bloomberg Administration proudly announced that the NYC high school graduation rates rose to 52% for the four year graduation rate and if you included summer school 56%. While this is an improvement over previous years, there is a more telling factor associated with the City statistics. The most telling factor was that 30.2% of the graduates received a local diploma, compared to Long Island's 9%! That means that almost 1 out of every 3 graduates could not meet the minimum requirements to get a dumbed-down Regents diploma. Tweed depended on some very questionable methods to increase the graduation rate. For example the New York Times article pointed out how the State was concerned with how the "Credit Recovery Program" was being used to push students through the system. I wrote about this program previously Here. Further, educational experts found this and other methods as a problem as well. Here is an what one of these experts on New York City Schools had to say.

An education professor at Brooklyn College, David Bloomfield, said the gains in graduation rates may be artificially inflated by principals trying to raise their figures, which are tied to prizes such as higher report card grades and salary bonuses.

Mr. Bloomfield named two practices that he called "gimmicks": local diplomas, which are being phased out by the state but now allow students to graduate with lower scores on Regents exams, and credit recovery programs, which allow students to earn credits from classes they failed by completing last-minute makeup work.

I read the Daily News Article on how Jamaica High School, a once proud institution being dismantled by DOE, increased their graduation rates by 10%! However, what was the Regents diploma increase? 10%?, 5%? less than 1%? In other words was the 10% increase in Jamaica's graduation rate real, or more gimmicks? It's hard to know because of the lack of transparency in the DOE statistics. Regardless of what the DOE statistics say. It is evident that with dumbed-down Regents, local diplomas, and administrative pressure to graduate "not ready for the adult world" student. The increase in high school graduation rates most be taken with suspicion.

I'm happy that the DOE claims that the graduation rate is rising, and maybe it is. However, to me it's just "smoke and mirrors".


Pissedoffteacher said...

Today's Newsday had an article about a reporter who dared to take a history regents. He scored a 97 although he has not taken any history courses for years.

Mills claimed the test was difficult. This guy pointed out the truth. Hopefully more and more stories will be put out like this and the truth will finally unfold.

Anonymous said...

The history regents, especially the world history regents, are jokes. The kids need to know barely an iota of history to answer those "document based questions" (DBQ's) that are practiced ad nauseum during the semester. The answers for those questions are usually withing the question's text. Part 1 is actually based on a working knowledge on both the world and US history regents. But with the unique scaled scoring system used by NY State to skew the otherwise-probably-closer-to-dismal history regents scores, we'll never know the truth as to actual student acheivement on those tests. That skew-the-score-system is used so well on the math regents, particularly the new integrated math regent's exam. But I digress. The regents just aren't what they used to be, the history regents being a prime example of tests engineered to be a 65 or over. The bell curve, the benchmark for a valid testing instrument, no longer applies.

Anonymous said...

And, you can buy smokes and mirrors at Rite-Aid, CVS and Duane Reade which are places where many of these "moved along" high school graduates will be working. Higher standards, indeed.

Chaz said...

I agree that the Living Environment, World History, and Math A Regents were dumbed-down to the point of making the test almost fail-proof. However, many of the so-called graduates can't even pass them.

I agree with pogue that the only jobs they will get are the low-wage kind.

NYC Educator said...

Well, you're right. I'm grateful for the non-Regents diplomas though. A lot of my ESL kids get out with 55 on the English Regents exam. They'll do OK eventually, for the most part, but it just takes time to learn a language.

They'd probably learn faster if folks like me had time to teach them English rather than train them for a test that's completely unsuitable for them.

Chaz said...

nyc educator:

I think that the ESL students should be given a pass here, because of the language issue. Some Special education students who have learning difficulties as well.

It is the English speakers that I have a problem with when it comes to the local diploma.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

In my august institution of higher learning, The Bayard Rustin Educational Complex, the DOE had to investigate the manner in which the young Social Studies teachers, who proctored the test for their very own students, graded the regents. Of course the results of the investigation have not been made public but at least the skunk of a Principal was forced to retire.

I wonder in how many other schools this is going on.