Saturday, December 27, 2014
Why The NYC Graduation Rate Does Not Reflect Real Academic Achievement.
With much fanfare, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina, took credit for an almost 3% increase in the high school graduation rate. The graduation rate has improved from 61.3% to 64.2%. Statewide, the graduation rate was 76.4%. Sounds like we are on the right path in improving student academic achievement? Wrong! the graduation rate is being manipulated and this is reflected by the college readiness scores, be it the State or City definition of "college and career readiness" (Citywide college ready is 32% and lower if you use the State's college ready scores). How is the City's graduation rate manipulated? Let me count the ways.
Credit Recovery: This is one of the best ways schools have used to add empty credits to a failing student's transcript. While the State forced the DOE to crack down on the awarding of credit recovery courses, the abuse continues throughout the system.
Principal pressure: In most every school I go to teachers complain that the Principal demands a passing grade for 80% of the students on the teacher's roster. Otherwise, the teacher will be rated poorly. I personally experienced it at Flushing High School in 2012. Moreover, a school's grading policy allows a student to fail most of the year but pass the class at the end if they get a passing rate in any one period by limiting the failing grade to 55 and no lower. Remember this attempt? Take a look at the 65% bulge at a school and the bigger the bulge the more likely the students who were granted a passing grade were academically unprepared for the adult world.
Alternative Settings: Many struggling students who are in danger of dropping out are sent to alternative settings such as transfer schools, YABC programs, and massive online courses through APEX or Castle learning. These settings are simply used to give students who would otherwise have not graduated an opportunity to graduate. While I understand the need for such programs, it does devalue the education requirements. Moreover, that doesn't make them academically prepared for the real world of a career.
It's nice that the graduation rate is improving but when it comes to real academic achievement I have my doubts that many of these students graduating are academically ready for either college or a career. The pushing out of academically unprepared students by giving them phony diplomas and expect them to become positive role models for the next generation that desperately needs them is wishful thinking and a failure to properly address the issues of poverty, family, and community that's the major problem in our City.