New EdTrust–NY analysis of graduation rates and “4+1” diploma pathways presents a mixed picture of progress on college and career readiness

by | Mar 14, 2018 | Press Release

new report by The Education Trust–New York offers a first look at how school districts are implementing the “4+1” diploma options, and raises questions about whether historically under-served groups of students have equitable access to college- and career-prep pathways. The report also examines the status of efforts to close the graduation rate gap for historically under-served students across the state.

“The 2017 high school graduation results present an important opportunity to examine pressing equity issues,” said Abja Midha, Deputy Director of The Education Trust–New York. “New York can put high school graduates on a path to postsecondary success by making sure all students have access to programs that prepare them for college and career readiness, while recognizing that multiple pathways and multiple measures are essential.”

Among the findings in Graduating to a Bright Future:

  • Early local implementation of the Regents diploma “4+1” pathway options is heavily concentrated in a small number of districts.
  • Early data indicate strikingly divergent patterns across districts with respect to both the type of “+1” pathway options districts are offering and the resulting type of diplomas that are being issued.
  • Early data also suggest students of color, low-income students, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities may be tracked into career-focused pathways rather than college- and career- focused pathways.
  • An increase in Local diplomas is responsible for almost the entire statewide graduation rate increase.
  • The statewide graduation rate would have decreased without the gains made in New York City and several other large city districts.
  • Graduation rates for English Language Learners (ELLs) require urgent attention. The statewide ELL high school graduation rate dropped by 0.3 percentage points, and the Regents and Advanced Regents diploma rate declined by 1.6 percentage points. Most alarmingly, the dropout rate for ELL students (29.7 percent) is higher than the four-year graduation rate for ELL students (26.6 percent).

These data can help inform policy-makers during the current budget process and in the coming months. Graduating to a Bright Future offers the following short-term recommendations to ensure all students graduate college or career ready:

  • Require school districts with troubling trends for any group of students to establish action plans to improve their Regents diploma and overall graduation rates.
  • Increase investment in support for English Language Learners in this year’s state budget.
  • Expand access to Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses.
  • Include college-ready scores on the SAT and ACT as allowable “4+1” pathways.
  • Establish an inclusive and deliberative process for adopting other changes in high school graduation requirements and pathways.