Ed Trust–NY issues statement on release of graduation rates for the Class of 2021

by | Feb 16, 2022 | Press Release

The following statement can be attributed to Dia Bryant, executive director for The Education Trust–New York:

“We know that New York students and educators have endured incredible challenges and interruptions to learning during the ongoing pandemic. Yet it is imperative that we do not allow these challenges to interfere with putting our students on the path to a bright future. For the second year in a row, we see districts relying on exemptions to graduate students. This approach does a disservice to students who have worked hard to earn a diploma and want to leave high school prepared for college or the workforce. This is particularly concerning among students who have been historically underserved by the education system, including students with disabilities, English language learners, and those in high-need areas – both rural and urban. As New York considers revisions to the state’s graduation requirements, it is critical that we do not further harm underserved groups of students and that we protect measures that accurately capture what students have learned.”

According to a preliminary analysis by Ed Trust–NY:

  • Districts relied significantly more on exemptions to graduate students in the Class of 2021, with the percentage of students to whom districts granted exemptions more than doubling across all need categories since 2020.

Change in Rate of Average Graduates with One or More Regents Exemption, 2016 to 2017 Cohort


Need Resource Category


Change in Average Exemption Rate


2017 cohort


2016 cohort

Rural high-need districts + 82% 92% 10%
Average-need districts + 81% 89% 8%
Low-need districts + 78% 81% 3%
Urban-suburban high-need districts + 68% 88% 20%
Charter Schools + 66% 87% 21%
Large City + 57% 89% 32%
NYCDOE + 56% 73% 17%


  • In the 10 districts with the largest percentages of English language learners, districts granted exemptions to 88% of graduates compared to 82% statewide.
  • Although New York City relied less heavily on exemptions to graduate students – with the lowest percentage of students to whom the district granted an exemption in the state – there was significant variation among its geographical districts, ranging from 40% in District 13 to 91% in District 16.