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December 18, 2014
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JP O'Hare

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Statewide High School Graduation Rate Shows Continuing Gains

Large Achievement Gaps Remain, Particularly on the
Advanced Designation Diploma

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch and New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today released high school graduation rates for the 2010 cohort (students who entered 9th grade in 2010).  The overall graduation rate increased to 76.4 percent from the previous year’s 74.9 percent.  The graduation rates announced today reflect the achievement of the first group of students who entered grade 9 following New York’s adoption of the Common Core standards in July 2010.  At the end of the 2010-11 school year, the Department began posting statewide and school/district graduation rate Aspirational Performance Measures (APMs) for college/career readiness.  The majority of students who graduated in 2011-12 or later did not have a local diploma option for graduation.  

Despite the higher standards, the graduation rate for the 2010 cohort is more than ten percentage points higher than it was for the 2001 cohort (65.8 percent), which means that more than 20,000 more students graduated in June 2014 than in June 2005.  However, King noted that many students still exit their fourth year of high school unprepared for college or the workforce, large achievement gaps remain, particularly on the Advanced Designation diploma, and the percentage of students performing at the college-ready level in English Language Arts and Math increased only slightly from 37.2 percent to 38.1 percent.

“The reforms we started in 2010 are being put into practice every day in classrooms across the state, and we’re starting to see the benefits,” Tisch said.  “It is clear, however, that the work of implementing the higher standards is not done. The percentage of students earning Regents Diplomas with Advanced Designation remains flat.  The Board of Regents is committed to making sure that all students have the opportunity to graduate ready for college or a career.  That’s why we’re moving forward to create multiple pathways to graduation, each focused on a rigorous coursework and program of study.”

“While the increased graduation rates are encouraging, nearly one in four students is not graduating after four years,” King said.  “It is imperative that we continue to support districts as they fully implement the higher expectations the Board of Regents has set for students and educators.  We must make sure that we build on the progress the State has made since the adoption of the Regents Reform Agenda in 2009-10 -- including the Common Core standards in July 2010.  Students must be given every opportunity to meet those increased expectations.   The Board of Regents 2015-16 state aid proposal, released this week, is designed to do just that, through increased support for operating aid, full-day prekindergarten, Career and Technical Education pathways, English Language Learner success, and expanded regionalization of school district services, including regional high schools.”

Graduation rates reported statewide and for Big 5 Districts have generally increased, particularly in New York City, for the 2010 cohort.  Graduation rates in the Big 5 for the 2010 cohort are as follows:

  • New York City: 64.2 percent (61.3 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Buffalo: 52.8 percent (53.4 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Rochester: 43.4 percent (43.0 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Syracuse: 51.1 percent (48.8 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Yonkers: 68.8 percent  (66.4 percent for the 2009 cohort)

Graduation rates for high need urban-suburban and rural districts have increased over the past five years.  However, the performance gap between high need and low need districts remains nearly unchanged at nearly 30 percentage points.  More than 94 percent of students from low need districts graduate with a high school diploma as compared to only 66 percent of students from high need urban-suburban districts.  The achievement gap between Black or Hispanic and White students is approximately 25 percentage points for the graduation rate and approximately 30 percentage points for the Advanced Designation diploma. 

Students once identified as English Language Learners (ELL) who were previously served by bilingual and English as a Second Language programs continue to show progress.  For the 2010 cohort, such students graduated at a rate of 73 percent, compared to the 2009 cohort which graduated at a rate of 71 percent.  Current ELLs graduated at a rate of 31 percent.  The Board of Regents continues to take steps to improve district delivery of ELL services and instruction, including, for the first time in 30 years, an update to Part 154 regulation that govern services for ELLs; release of instructional supports for ELLs; a memorandum of understanding with the New York City Department of Education to improve services for NYC ELLs; and a new graduation safety net appeal process for certain ELL students who enter the U.S. during ninth grade or above.

King said these data are being released months earlier than in years past to due to improvements in the statewide data system capacity and to enable district leaders and teachers to make better informed decisions that will benefit students.  A full report of the data is available at: