Capital Region high school graduation rates 2009

Albany High School

The Albany school district doesn't fare well in these rankings.

The state Department of Education released data about high school graduation rates this week. The statewide graduation rate for the 2005 cohort of students was 74 percent (that counts kids who finished up by August 2009).

We pulled out the stats from Capital Region school districts. As we mentioned last year, some of the results are sort of shocking. Sorted stats (including notes and qualifications) after the jump.

A quick note about the data
"Graduation rate" in this case counts students from the 2005 cohort who graduated with a Regents or local degree as of August 2009 (four school years plus one summer). "Dropped out" is students who did not get a degree, did not transfer to a GED program or are not still enrolled.

First up, the whole list for the Capital Region, sorted highest to lowest.

Breakdowns by county -- with last year's rates -- follow that. (Comparing 2009 to 2008 isn't going to give you much sense of any significant trend, but it's there for casual comparison.)

A few notes follow the tables.

Capital Region

Albany County

Rensselaer County

Saratoga County

Schenectady County


+ Duanesburg topped the chart with a 95 percent graduation rate (North Colonie and Niskayuna had the highest rate last year). It also tied BH-BL and Niskayuna for lowest drop out rate (1 percent).

+ Albany takes over the bottom spot this year with a 53 percent rate (Schenectady was at the bottom last year). Albany's rate is down from 61 percent the year before (again, one year to the next is probably not enough to call it a "trend.")

+ As abby, Milo and Susan pointed out last year, it can be hard to tracks kids from school district to the next -- so districts that have a lot of transfer may do worse in this sort of ranking.


If you look at the per-pupil spending, Bethlehem and Albany spend nearly identical dollar amounts for very different results. While I absolutely believe in spending money on education, its obvious that simply throwing money at the problem does nothing. The ACSD needs a top down restructuring.

yeahh d-burg!!!

If we're going to compare Bethlehem & Albany can we add some additional demographic statistics other than per pupil expenditures? How about household income, parental educational levels and incidence of single parent households? While Bethlehem & Albany may seemingly spend the same amount of money in the classroom, what is happening beyond those 7.5 hours a day is vastly different.

I agree with slilly. It's lazy or myopic, or both, to make blanket comparisons about districts with populations that couldn't be more different. How does that help?

This is highly speculatory: I think most people can agree that there are three ingredients that come together to make MOST of the average 'sucessful kid.' 1. Parent(s)/Guardian(s) that push, are involved, and take an active role. 2. Opportunities for a good, rounded education. 3. An ambitious kid that can work through distraction.

If one of those key ingredients in the recipe is missing, then the risk of failure increases. What this also means is that although there are plenty of children missing #1 and #3 in our city schools, there are also plenty of kids that are succeeding at a high level - I believe it's because they have a stable home environment, are pushing themselves, and/or there is a role model in their life that is keeping them on the right track.

It is shameful that the city schools are having such a difficult time with graduation rates, it really is. It's also a shame that the assumption is being made by otherwise intelligent people "If I send my kid to an urban school they will suffer for it" - I wholeheartedly disagree. We can't run from our problems and wait for someone else to solve them.

daleyplanit....thanks for being able to say what I'm feeling....

the public school system is an engine to churn out consumers, a device constructed entirely for the creation of a political "majority" that will neglect to change the status quo because of their own tentative involvement with that status quo. the barbaric, hierarchical administrators of these schools are not the allies but the enemies of the high school students. dropping out of school can be the first step toward a richer and more productive life than the menial grind of middle class consumption. the answer to this problem is not to get more kids through the mill but to give them a healthy, useful alternative to the traditional time-purchased hierarchical competition-based reward system. life has more to offer than money, but the public school system does not and can not acknowledge that without bottom-up revision. the first step is destruction.

Both writers who compared Albany and Bethlehem are correct, and they're not mutually exclusive. However, acknowledging that what goes on outside the classroom impacts what happens in the school only proves that spending more, in and of itself, is not an answer. There is only a weak correlation between spending and achievement. Just look at Albany and Bethlehem.

City of Albany should be split into 2 high schools. One for the kids that can get an 80% and actually care about their lives and another for the rest. Why let the bad kids bring the good kids down.

Earlier this year Albany High School was put on the list of persistently lowest achieving schools, and believe it or not it wasn't because of a low graduation rate, it was for bad Math and Ela scores, and most of that was because of the unbelievably low scores for disabled(primarily emotionally disabled) students. I had a business in Albany from 2003 - 2008 and a lot of my customers were middle school and high school age kids. I talked to a lot of these kids and their parents and heard one horror story after the other about incompetent teachers and administrators. They'd do things like refuse to give textbooks to some of the kids even when the kid and parent begged for them, suspend kids for weeks at a time for being late or being truant, and would scream at kids they new were suffering from PTSD. They got a new superintendent, a new HS principal, and bunch of new administrators and teachers this school year. Hopefully they can turn things around.

At least one fact from these rankings is accurate: the environment in the Albany HS is one that falls short on increasing the chances of graduation. Most likely the parents of the non-graduating students are to blame, but so is the entire feeder (elementary/middle) school system as many kids are pushed through so they won't have to be dealt with. Why should the teachers care if the students or their parents don't. While I am sure there is a plethora of ineptness in the administration and even the HS teachers, how can a school system that has to check for weapons attract good teachers. The conduct of the students scares the hell out of most respectable teacheres - the conduct of the students is NOT in any way the schools responsibility. However, here we see a breakdown in the parental responsibility that needs to occur outside the school system. Shame on them. But the system BY LAW has to deal with these students with the thinking that if we don't educate them, they will become a burden on society and we will have to provide social support dollars to them in one form or another in perpetuity. Either way, the taxpayer loses. If the system doesn't "push" through the students, the county won't get the federal funding. And don't even get me started on how low the bar is for the Regents (talk about a low bar!!). The answer is to abolish the public school system and give parents vouchers to chose a private school where the cost per student seems to always be less and the results always seem to be higher. There will be a generation or two of pain, but then parents will quickly realize the importance of involvment and schools will quickly realize the importance of performance.

I wonder what is the difference between the special education expenditures between Albany and Bethlehem...

The question that I have been asking myself is not, how did the Albany school district do so poorly, but how did the Duanesburg School District do so well? I am surprised they beat out Bethlehem, Shenendehowa and other school districts known for their schools.

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