What does the Increased Graduation Rate Mean?

What does the Increased Graduation Rate Mean?

The city just released a report saying that the High School graduation rate crossed 70%, its best ever.   That’s up from 46% in 2005, ten years ago.  So what do we make of this obvious success? 

The first question we should ask is why has the graduation rate increased?  Is it a function of lower standards, cheating in some way, or has real progress been made?  If it is real progress, we should, at a minimum, keep doing what has been working and seek ways to do more of it.

Apparently, even the regents don’t know.  Regent Kathleen Cashin from Brooklyn, and a former NYC principal and Superintendent said “I want the graduations to go up with substance, with backing, otherwise it’s a ruse.”  The NY Times, Chalkbeat and the daily news all had nothing to say about why the rate went up, because the press release from the Board of Ed said absolutely nothing about it. (Click here to see it

One response that really struck me was by Eric Nadelstern.  Nadelstern  now teaches at Teachers College at Columbia but used to a high ranking official at the Board of Ed during Bloomberg’s term.  He thought these great results were justification for a “significant overhaul” of how things are done.  Then he rolled out a predictable agenda of closing schools, rewarding student success (which I think is code for merit pay for teachers and principals), create more new small schools and reform the board of ed.  The one interesting proposal was to reduce teacher workload, although he said nothing about how he thinks that would help or how to pay for it.

Here’s the link to Nadelstern’s article. 

I am mystified why these kind of results would call for blowing something up.  I get the urge to blow things up if your results are terrible, even though I am highly skeptical of how long lasting any radical changes are—it is hard to make radical change in complex organizations.  I don’t get the urge to blow things up, when it is as least possible that things are moving in the right direction.  Move faster?  Of course.  Tack this way or that way, especially so more African American and Hispanics graduate because they are lagging whites?  Absolutely.  But blow it up? 

I’m with Cashin on this one.  Show me that the results actually measure academic progress, and I’m thrilled.  Explain to me why you think it is happening, even if you have to give some credit to the hated Bloomberg administration.  Correlate this data with the fact that state graduation rates are also increasing.  Don’t cherry pick the data just to promote your pre-existing favorite ideas in education.

Jared Gellert is the Executive Director of CITE.

CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education . For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train TEACHERS (Early Childhood, Professional Certification, Special Ed, Grad Courses, DASA); COUNSELORS (School, Mental Health Masters, Advanced Certificate); and ADMINISTRATORS (SBL, SDL, Public Admin, Doctorate) in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, and Long Island.

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