Test Scores, Graduation Rates Climb
The statewide English Language Arts (ELA) and math examinations take place at the end of April and the beginning of May. Given to all students in grades 3 through 8, the tests will largely determine promotion to the next grade.
The exams have been criticized for creating an over-emphasis on testing and on March 14, President Barack Obama proposed an overhaul of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law passed by the previous administration of President George Bush that requires states to administer them.
While it proposes to keep the annual reading and math tests, the Obama proposal includes other measurements of students’ individual academic progress not based on test results to determine whether a school is succeeding or failing. Among them attendance and graduation rates.
On March 9, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein released data showing the four-year graduation rate in city high schools rose to an all-time high. Over the last five years, graduation rates have made steady progress, going up from 46.5 percent for the class of 2005 to 59 percent in 2009. Counting students who graduated in August, the four-year graduation rate was 62.7 percent. The four-year graduation rate was 56.4 percent in 2008.
The four-year graduation rate for Hispanic students was 51.8 percent and 53.9 percent for black students in 2009, up from 48.7 percent and 51.4 percent, respectively, in 2008.
In Queens, the four-year graduation rate hit a high of 60.8 percent in 2009— 64.7 percent including August 2009 graduates. The four-year rate in the borough was 58.3 percent in 2008, 56.8 percent in 2007, and 54 percent in both 2006 and 2005.
Increases in four-year graduation rates in New York City not withstanding, schools in the United States are lagging behind many other countries, according to Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.
Schleicher told the U.S. Senate Education Committee that American supremacy in educational standards is eroding fast, as reported in the March 10 New York Times. That conclusion was based on OECD data of international test results in math, reading and science from students around the world conducted every three years.
President Obama has proposed replacing NCLB requirements that every American child achieve proficiency in reading and math with a goal of having all students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career.
“More than ever, graduating from high school is a prerequisite for success later in life,” Klein said in a March 9 press release.
Klein also noted that more students are earning Regents diplomas. Some 44.6 percent of graduates earned a Regents or Advanced Regents diploma in June 2009, compared to 40.9 percent in 2008 and 30 percent in 2005. The Regents diploma will be required for all students in 2012.