Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Spitzer Criticizes Bloomberg's School Statistics
Governor Spitzer has criticized Mayor Bloomberg's assertion that graduation rates are improving. Regarding this oft-cited "accomplishment", the Governor says the City's graduation rate "hasn't changed in any significant way". Here's the story in the Daily News.
Apart from the trend, there is a more fundamental disagreement over what the rate actually is. The City asserts the graduation rate is 58.2% while the State says it's only 43.5%. (For those checking facts, click on the numbers).
Why the difference? First, the City counts all students that get a GED as a regular high school graduates, as well all who graduate after summer school following their fourth year of high school. The City also refuses to include in the cohort almost 6,000 special education students in segregated classes, and more than 16,000 students “discharged” to GED or alternative programs. We know that very few students in either group ever graduate with a regular high school diploma. None of these practices are considered acceptable by the federal government or any independent agency. In fact, the latest report from the US Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics showed NYC with a four year graduation rate of only 38.9% -- the lowest of any of the 100 largest school districts in the country.
Graduation rates are not the only thing the City struggles with measuring. The Mayor's administration still can't seem to publish average class size statistics as required by law. In their February class size report to the City Council, they were supposed to release second semester class size averages, which differ significantly in high schools from the first semester. Yet instead, they simply provided revised numbers for October. Is that the best they can do? Is is really so hard to count how many of our children are in class?