Report Examines Graduation Rates and Academic Tracks of Black High School Students in New York

The New York Equity Coalition has released a new report on high school graduation rates and the academic track which was used to enable these students to gain their diplomas.

In 2018-19, New York State’s overall high school graduation rate reached a high of 83.4 percent. This rate reflects a 3.1 percentage point increase from five years earlier. The graduation rate for Black students rose by 6.9 percentage points from 2014-15 to 2018-19. Of this gain, 63 percent was driven by greater use of local diplomas. These diplomas are awarded to students who do not reach the standard passing score on the state’s Regents Examination.

The report also found that Black students are disproportionately tracked into the Career Development & Occupational Studies graduation pathway that was not designed to lead to college readiness. Black students were 4.3 times as likely as White students to be tracked into the Career Development & Occupational Studies track.

The analysis also found that Black students are too often “proficient and passed over” — scoring proficient or advanced on the grade 7 state math assessment but being less likely to be enrolled in advanced math in grades 8 and 9 than their White peers. New York’s education system is on average approximately twice as likely to enroll White students in a diverse range of advanced classes in high school than their Black peers — including physics, calculus, advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, computer science, advanced foreign languages, and music. This is both because students who are low-income and students of color are less likely to attend schools where these courses are offered and because even when they attend schools that have the classes, these student groups are less likely to be given access to these courses.

Finally, nearly half of recent high school graduates in New York who subsequently attended college reported taking remedial courses, including 70 percent of Black students.

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