News and Speeches

High School Graduation Rate Rises Above 60 Percent, Marking the Seventh Consecutive Year of Gains

06/22/2009

More Students Earning the Regents Diploma

Graduation Rate Among English Language Learners Up More than 10 Percentage Points

Black and Hispanic Students Narrow the Gap with White and Asian Peers

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced that New York City’s four-year high school graduation rate rose to a new high of 60.7 percent in 2008, marking the first time the City’s graduation rate has surpassed 60 percent according to the State Education Department, which released the data today. The graduation rate rose 3.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2008, furthering a continuous rise since the Mayor won control of the school system in 2002. The rise in the graduation rate between 2007 and 2008 is accompanied by an equally large increase in the percentage of students earning Regents diplomas. Additionally, the graduation rate among English Language Learners rose more than 10 percentage points between 2007 and 2008. Black and Hispanic students continue to narrow the graduation gap with their white and Asian peers. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined for the announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall by Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest A. Logan and United Federation of Teachers CEO Mike Mulgrew.

    “After years of near stagnation, our reforms have increased the graduation rate each year since we’ve been in office—and I’m so proud to see that graduation rates are up again this year,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “This year, English and math scores went way up, schools got much safer, and many more of our high school seniors have earned their diplomas. This is a great day for New York City schools.”

    The dropout rate also fell by 3.3 percentage points between 2007 and 2008 to a new low of 13.5 percent. Since 2005, when the State began calculating graduation rates using its current methodology, the City’s graduation rate has risen 9.9 points, and the dropout rate has declined by 8.5 points. This means that more than 7,800 additional students in New York City have graduated and 6,200 fewer students have dropped out since 2005.

    “I’m pleased that the graduation rate is continuing to rise in New York City, and I’m especially pleased that more of our students than ever before are meeting the requirements for earning a Regents diploma,” said Chancellor Klein. “We want to thank the State for its leadership in setting a high bar for graduation. We’ve worked closely with Commissioner Mills over the last several years to strengthen academic standards, and these results are further evidence that students will rise to meet high expectations.”

    “Graduation from High School is necessary to be prepared for college, work and life. These numbers are encouraging, and I want to congratulate every student, teacher, principal and parent for their efforts, but I also want to say that we will never rest until all kids are achieving and graduating,” said UFT President Randi Weingarten. “Local diplomas will be phased out over the next three years, raising the standards our students will have to meet to graduate high school. In order to continue the progress we have made, we must ensure that our students, their schools and their teachers have the resources and support necessary to meet this new challenge.”

    “Our principals and assistant principals are gratified as graduation rates continue to rise. With attendance and graduation rates growing stronger, high achievement for all students becomes a greater possibility, and we have always believed in this possibility,” said Council of School Supervisors and Administrators President Ernest Logan. “The diligence and conviction of our school administrators, teachers, and parents have contributed to all the recent progress in New York City’s public schools. But when it comes to higher graduation rates, let’s give our students the greatest congratulations and a very big round of applause.”

    The State Education Department reported that New York City’s four-year graduation rate in 2008 was 60.7 percent. This figure includes students who graduated in August after completing remaining requirements over the summer. However, because the State only recently began including August graduates in its calculation, comparisons to previous years must exclude August graduates. Excluding August graduates, the City’s four-year graduation rate rose to 56.4 percent in 2008 from 52.8 percent in 2007 and 46.5 percent in 2005. At the same time, the dropout rate fell to 13.5 percent in 2008, down from 15.8 percent in 2007 and 22 percent in 2005. The five-year graduation rate rose to 62.6 percent in 2008 from 58.8 percent in 2007 and 55.7 percent in 2006. The six-year graduation rate rose to 61.8 percent in 2008 from 58.5 percent in 2007.

    The rising percentage of students earning Regents diplomas matched the increase in the overall graduation rate. A new high of 40.9 percent of the class earned a Regents diploma in 2008, compared to 37.1 percent in 2007 and 30 percent in 2005—a 10.9 percentage point increase over three years. Students must meet more stringent graduation requirements, including higher scores on their Regents exams, to earn a Regents diploma. The percentage of students earning local diplomas fell to 15.5 percent in 2008 from 15.7 percent in 2007 and 16.5 percent in 2005—even as the overall graduation rate has increased.

    The percentage of English Language Learners who graduated in four years rose 10.7 percentage points between 2007 and 2008. The graduation rate among these students was 35.8 percent in 2008, up from 25.1 percent in 2007. This increase is particularly impressive because English Language Learners are often new to the country and must master English as well as meet all other graduation requirements.

    The graduation rate among special education students was 22.5 percent in 2008, up from 18.3 percent in 2007 and 17.1 percent in 2005. The one-year increase of 4.2 percentage points essentially matched the increase among general education students.

    The four-year graduation rate among black and Hispanic students is increasing faster than that of their white and Asian peers. The gap in the graduation rate between white and black students was 20.1 percentage points in 2008, down from 21.2 percentage points in 2007 and 23.9 percentage points in 2005. Including August graduates, the gap in 2008 closed to 18.9 points. The gap between white and Hispanic students was 22.8 percentage points in 2008, down from 25.5 points in 2007 and 26.6 points in 2005. Including August graduates, the gap in 2008 closed to 21.5 points.

    Overall, 51.4 percent of black students in the class of 2008 graduated in four years, compared to 47.8 percent in 2007 and 40.1 percent in 2005. This 11.3 point increase over two years compares to a 7.5 point increase among white students and a 7.8 point increase among Asian students during the same period. Similarly, 48.7 percent of Hispanic students in the class of 2008 graduated in four years, compared to 43.5 percent in 2007 and 37.4 percent in 2005, an increase of 11.3 points over two years.

    The City and the State currently use a shared methodology to calculate graduation rates. Previously, the City used its own methodology, which has remained unchanged since 1986 and is still useful for comparisons over time. Using the City’s formula, the graduation rate rose from 58 percent to 66 percent between 2005 and 2008, an increase that tracks closely to the State’s calculation. Since 2002, using the City’s methodology, the graduation rate has increased by 15.2 points—from 50.8 percent to 66 percent. Before the start of the Bloomberg administration, the graduation rate had been essentially stagnant for a decade, hovering around 50 percent. 

Click here to view the complete graduation results for the class of 2008.