Graduation rates at Graphic have remained at low levels—below 50%—for the past decade.
■ The school’s four-year graduation rate has recently improved— reaching 44% (including August graduates) in 2009.1 Even with this progress, it remained well below the citywide 63% average.
■ If Regents diplomas alone counted toward graduation—as will be the case in just one year—the four-year graduation rate at Graphic would drop to just 22%. Unlike the overall graduation rate, the Regents rate has not improved significantly, fluctuating between 19% and 23% over the past five years.
■ The school’s attendance rate continues to be low. The 2008-2009 average attendance rate was 75%, far below the 86% citywide average high school attendance rate that year.
■ The Graphic was rated Underdeveloped with Proficient Features on its most recent Quality Review in 2009-2010. During Quality Reviews, experienced educators spend several days visiting a school, observing classrooms, and talking to staff, students, and parents. This rating indicates serious deficiencies in the way Graphic is organized to support student learning. It also represents a decline from Proficient ratings in prior years.
■ Safety issues have been a concern at Graphic. On the 2010 New York City School Survey, 28% of students reported that they don’t feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at the school.
Despite Performance Struggles, Demand for Seats Has Held Steady
■ Demand for seats in the four Educational Option programs at Graphic has remained steady over the last few years, although some programs continue to attract more students than others within the school.
■ We have worked with the Principal to reduce the number of incoming ninth-graders so that more students who enroll are those who have selected the school as a top choice on their High School Application rather than entering through the “Over the Counter” process.
Despite Our Best Efforts, Performance at Graphic Remains Low
Graphic’s staff have worked hard to improve the school, but the school has not yet turned around. The DOE also extended considerable support to Graphic, including:
■ Funding and support to restructure the school into Smaller Learning Communities.
■ Working with the school to reduce enrollment and phasing-out the Academy of Print Media, the Academy with the lowest demand, as part of a campus-wide plan to focus attention on a smaller number of academies and students.
■ Extensive teacher training around a range of issues including curriculum planning, improving teaching practices, and individualizing teaching to meet each student’s needs. In addition, we provided training specifically related to implementing the Small Learning Communities initiative within the school.
■ Support for teaching teams focused on the needs of targeted student populations, such as English language learners, special education students, or students who are struggling academically.
■ Fostering opportunities for teachers and administrators to connect with colleagues in other schools, allowing them to learn from one another, improve instruction, and better support students.
■ Support in recruiting talented teachers.
As we consider possible options for the future of Graphic, we will be analyzing past strategic improvement efforts at the school to help us identify what has been working and what has not. This information will guide our thinking about how best to support students and the community going forward.
We Know That We Can Do Better
Graphic serves a high-need population: 12% of students are English language learners and 20% require special education services. But other schools serving similar students have achieved far better results.
■ At the Acorn School for Social Justice, which is in Graphic’s peer group, 6% of students are English language learners and 20% require special education services. Acorn’s four-year graduation rate last year was 75%, with 47% of students earning Regents diplomas. The school also had a 91% attendance rate.
■ At Belmont Preparatory High School, which is in Graphic’s peer group, 19% of students are English language learners and 19% of students require special education services. That school achieved a 62% four-year graduation rate in 2009, with 52% of students earning Regents diplomas.
We Remain Focused on Helping Graphic Students to Succeed
Please be assured that the DOE will work closely with Graphic’s staff to ensure that students get the support they need—this year and in the future. In the immediate term, we will build on past efforts to support the school, including:
■ Helping the school better support its highest-need students, including English language learners, special education students, and students who are performing below grade-level.
■ Working to identify areas where professional development is needed and assisting the school in meeting those needs.
■ Helping to create and enhance relationships with community partners.