News and Speeches

Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein Announce That High School Graduation Rate Rises to All-Time High of 63 Percent, Marking the Eighth Consecutive Year of Gains

03/09/2010



More Students Earning Regents Diplomas than Ever Before

Drop-Out Rate Cut Nearly In Half Since 2005  

Hispanic Graduation Rate Above 50 Percent for the First Time 

        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 an all-time high of 63 percent in 2009, according to the State Education Department, which released the data today. Between 2008 and 2009, the June graduation rate rose nearly three percentage points, extending its continuous rise since the Mayor won control of the school system in 2002. Including August graduates, as the State and City both now do, the 2009 graduation rate is 62.7 percent. The increase was accompanied by an even larger rise in the proportion of students earning Regents diplomas, which will become the State’s standard diploma in two years. Additionally, students of all ethnicities continued to make progress, with graduation rates increasing for white, Asian, black, and Hispanic students. For the first time, more than half of the City’s Hispanic students—56 percent, including August graduates —graduated in four years. The Mayor and Chancellor were joined for the announcement at Tweed Courthouse by Ernie Logan, President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA) and Leo Casey, Vice President of Academic High Schools of the United Federation of Teachers of the United Federation of Teachers, as well as principals of high schools from all five boroughs including Evelyn Collins, principal of the Manhattan Theatre Lab High School; Vincent A. Maniscalco, principal of Staten Island Technical High School; Michael Athy principal of Bayside High School in Queens; Charles Osewalt, principal of the Morris Academy  of Collaborative Studies High School in the Bronx; and David Cohen, principal of Brooklyn’s Midwood High School.

        “After a decade of stagnation, New York City’s graduation rate has increased for eight consecutive years,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “And not only are more students graduating than ever before, but the number of students dropping out has been cut nearly in half in just the past four years alone. We won’t be satisfied until every student graduates from high school, but our City’s principals and teachers deserve enormous credit for the significant progress we’ve made.”

        “More than ever, graduating from high school is a prerequisite for success later in life, so it’s encouraging that increasing numbers of our students are reaching this significant milestone,” said Chancellor Klein. “The fact that more are also earning Regents diplomas is an especially promising sign that students are graduating prepared to meet the rigorous challenges in college and in their careers.”

        Since 2005, when the State began calculating graduation rates using its current methodology, the City’s June graduation rate has risen by 12.5 points. The dropout rate has been cut nearly in half during the same period, falling to a new low of 11.8 percent—a decline of 10.2 points since 2005. In all, 3,300 additional students in New York City graduated in June 2009 compared to June 2008, with that number rising to almost 6,200 additional students when August graduates are counted.

        New York City’s four-year graduation rate of 62.7 percent includes students who graduated in August after completing remaining requirements over the summer. Because the State only began including August graduates in its calculation last year, however, comparisons to previous years exclude August graduates. Exempting these graduates, the City’s four-year graduation rate rose to 59 percent in 2009 from 56.4 percent in 2008 and 46.5 percent in 2005.  Moreover, the five-year June graduation rate rose to 66.1 percent in 2009 from 62.6 percent in 2008 and 55.7 percent in 2006. The six-year June graduation rate rose to 65.6 percent in 2009 from 61.8 percent in 2008 and 58.5 percent in 2007.

        A larger percentage of graduates than ever before—44.6 percent—earned a Regents or Advanced Regents diploma in June 2009, compared to 40.9 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2005—a 14.6 point increase over four years. To earn Regents diplomas, students must meet more stringent graduation requirements, including passing Regents exams. The percentage of students earning less rigorous local diplomas fell to 14.4 percent in June 2009 from 15.5 percent in 2008 and 16.6 percent in 2005—even while the overall graduation rate has increased and the requirements for local diplomas became more rigorous.

        Additionally, the percentage of English language learners who graduated in four years rose 3.9 points between June 2008 and June 2009. The graduation rate among these students was 39.7 percent in June 2009, and 44.4 percent including August graduates, up from 35.8 percent in June 2008 and 25.1 percent in June 2007. This increase is particularly significant given that English language learners are often recent immigrants and must master English while working to meet all other graduation requirements simultaneously.

        The graduation rate among special education students was 24.7 percent in June 2009, up from 22.5 percent in June 2008 and 17.1 percent in June 2005. Including August graduates, 26.6 percent of special education students graduated in four years.

        Students of all ethnic groups continue to achieve higher June graduation rates. For the first time, the percentage of Hispanic students graduating in four years rose above 50 percent, with 51.8 percent of Hispanic students in the class of 2009 graduating in four years, compared to 48.7 percent in 2008 and 37.4 percent in 2005. This 14.4 point increase over four years compares to a 9.9 point increase among white students and a 10.5 point increase among Asian students during the same period.  Overall, 53.9 percent of percent of black students in the class of 2009 graduated in four years, compared to 51.4 percent in 2008 and 40.1 percent in 2005, an increase of 13.8 points since 2005. Including August graduates, 55.9 percent and 57.8 percent of Hispanic and black students, respectively, graduated in four years in 2009.

        These gains come as the Department of Education strengthens its focus on preparing students for postsecondary work and success. The Department is providing all eleventh-grade students in the City with a free online SAT preparation and college planning tool in advance of the spring and fall 2010 SATs. Also, the DOE has launched a college readiness initiative focused on expanding and strengthening AP course offerings through AP teacher training workshops in up to 40 schools. The program seeks to improve access to courses, raise student scores on AP exams, and increase the supply of AP materials available to teachers and students.

        In recent years, the City and State have used a shared methodology to calculate graduation rates. Before the State began calculating graduation rates, the City adopted its own methodology in 1986, which remains the only basis for historical comparisons. Using the City’s old formula, the graduation rate rose from 58 percent to 68 percent between 2005 and 2009, an increase that tracks closely to the State’s calculation. Since 2002, using the City’s old methodology, the graduation rate has increased by 33 percent, or 17.2 points—from 50.8 percent to 68 percent. Before the start of the Bloomberg Administration, the graduation rate had been essentially stagnant for a decade, hovering around 50 percent.

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For a complete list of graduation outcomes for the 2001 through 2005 cohort, visit our Graduation and Dropout Reports page.