En Español Know Your Rights
Source: The New York Times
Subject: Education Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Report Foresees Drop in Graduation Rates

New York City may see significant drops in its
graduation rates because of more rigorous diploma requirements affecting
current ninth graders, according to a report released by a coalition of parent
and community groups on Wednesday.

The high
school graduating class of 2012 will be the first to be required to pass the
state Regents exams, a set of five tests in subjects like English and history,
with a score of 65 or higher. In the past, students have been able to graduate
with so-called “local” diplomas, which only require a score of 55 or higher on
the Regents.

At a news
conference outside the Department of Education on Wednesday, the group, known
as the
**Coalition for Educational Justice, called on state and city
education officials to form a committee to examine how to stave off potentially
large decreases in the city’s graduation rate.

Linda
Gavin, a parent member of the coalition, said she applauded higher standards,
but she said more should be done to prevent low-performing schools from falling
behind, especially with budget cuts on the horizon.

“You’re
throwing the kids into the pool of water yet you didn’t teach them how to
swim,” she said. “Our graduation rates are low enough; now what are you going
to have, 2 percent graduating?”

Ms.
Gavin, parent of a 10th grader at Franklin
K. Lane
High School
, a school
with a graduation rate of 31 percent that is in the process of phasing out
because of poor performance, said more funds should be given to struggling
schools.

The group
has suggested reorganizing the school day to include 25 percent more
instruction time and turning low-performing schools into community centers with
health clinics, adult education classes and legal services to help low-income
families.

Under the
current, more lenient requirements, 52 percent of students citywide graduate
from high school in four years. There are still significant gaps between racial
groups earning the Regents diploma — 28 percent of black students and 26
percent of Hispanic students are awarded the more rigorous diploma, compared
with 57 percent of white students, according to the report, which was written
by researchers at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University.

William
Havemann, a spokesman for the Department of Education, said the department had
no plans to form a committee to study the issue, as the coalition had
requested. But he said education officials see rigorous diploma standards as an
opportunity and are planning an initiative emphasizing college preparation at
high schools over the next few years.

**MRNY is active member of the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ).