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Capital Region high school graduation rates 2012

chalk on chalk board ledgeThe state Department of Education released its annual collection of data about high school graduation rates around the state on Monday. The statewide graduation rate for the 2008 cohort of students was 74 percent, the same as the year before. (That counts kids who finished up by June 2012. The rate was almost 77 percent if students finished by August 2012 are included). And as NYSED notes, this was the first cohort in which the "local diploma" option was not available to general education students, requiring them to graduate with a more rigorous Regents diploma.

We pulled out the stats from Capital Region school districts. As in years past, there continues to be a sobering gap in graduation rates among some school districts and groups of students.

Sorted stats (including notes and qualifications) after the jump.

A note about the data

"Graduation rate" in the tables below counts students from the 2008 cohort who graduated as of August 2012 (four school years plus one summer). "Dropped out" is students who did not get a degree, did not transfer to a GED program, did not get an IEP diploma, or are not still enrolled.

Breakdowns by Capital Region school district and county -- with previous years' rates -- are in wide format above (scroll all the way up). Comparing just a few years isn't necessarily going to give you much sense of any significant trend, but it's there for casual comparison.

Below is the whole list for the Capital Region, sorted highest to lowest by graduation rate. In years past when we've posted these rates, people have (rightly) brought up the issue of household income and the percent of students with disabilities. So we've included the percentage of students who were tagged as being economically disadvantaged or having a disability or limited English proficient in each district's cohort. (More on that below.)

We've also included aggregate numbers for the four core counties of the Capital Region. These aggregate numbers highlight some of the troubling gaps that persist between different groups of students.

All data is from NYSED. In many cases, percentages have been rounded.

All Capital Region students

Numbers for Black and Hispanic students do not include Hispanic totals for Schenectady County because breakouts for that category were not available.

All Capital Region districts

NYSED defines (doc) "economically disadvantaged" as any student whose family is enrolled in at least one of a group of public assistance programs -- among them: free or reduced price lunch, food stamps, the earned income tax credit, the Home Energy Assistance Program. The disabilities category can include everything from physical disabilities to learning disabilities.

A few notes

+ Vorheesville takes the top spot, for the third year in a row.

+ Albany takes the bottom spot for the fourth year in a row. And its graduation rate slipped below 50 percent again. (It had been 52 percent the year before.) It was also facing one of the more challenging situations: more than half its cohort was economically disadvantaged, and a big chunk of it was tagged as having a disability.

+ As is also true statewide, there is a wide gap between the outcomes for white students (87 graduation percentage) and Black and Hispanic students (59 percent) in the Capital Region. Statewide the gap is 28 percentage points, according to NYSED, the same as it is here.

+ As is also true statewide, there is a wide gap between the general education population and students who have disabilities (34 percentage points) or are economically disadvantaged (15 percentage points).

Here's a NYSED pdf of district-by-district graduation rates with breakdowns by groups of students:

NYSED HS Graduation Rates by District 2012

photo: Flickr user Kyle McCluer


This is pretty profound. It's kind of surprising troy is in as good shape as it is, relatively speaking.

It'd be interesting to see a further breakdown of the percentage who dropped out. I'm sure it's not possible but it'd be interesting to see what trajectory they took.

I'm sure I don't make up the majority, but I dropped out of high school (intentionally and not grade or policy related) and started college early.

There you have it. The number one reason people move to the bubs. The problem is overwhelming.

I'd like an explanation for why more disabled students live in the Cities.

Are poor and/or minorities more likely to be disabled for some reason I'm missing?

I understand why adults CLAIMING disability may be more prevalent in these areas, but is there an accompanying economic benefit for disabled children?

@Ike, yes there is an economic advantage for having a child who has a disability. However, the data in this chart is from the school district not the city/town etc., and the numbers of students with a 'disability' in the community could be different from those who have one labeled by school. There are a few more steps in the process to be labeled by a district.

Cue bashing of city schools, life etc, followed by counter bashing of suburban isolationism.

I continue to be baffled with the schools that seem to be all over the map. Hoosic Valley's numbers leapt in 2011 to 96% which was puzzling, now the drop to 86% more so....what is going on there? A similar story in Hoosic Falls which, interestingly enough, is georgraphically nearby HV.

Also see these types of dramatic swings in Laningsburgh, Renssalear City and Waterford. Are the class sizes small enough in these schools that a few students can impact the percentages that much?

This shows that children who live in economically disadvantaged homes or are a minority clearly are not provided with the same advantages even as the middle class white community. It's no secret that there is no true equal opportunity. Kids who go to school hungry are at an immediate disadvantage.

This is a problem. It's a problem that needs to be taken seriously, especially by the City of Albany. I love this town and I want to see our kids succeed. We pay a ton in school taxes compared to other communities in NY and nationwide. So, why are *we* failing our kids? What can *we* do to change it?

We need to move beyond the arguments that Lucy mentioned and get to the heart of the problem. Our kids deserve better and our city deserves better. We need to make changes and NOW. Albany will never improve as a city until we start providing our kids with the education they deserve. I don't even have children but having an educated population directly impacts all of our lives.

It would be interesting for districts with relatively similar populations to get together and compare notes. Cohoes, Watervliet, Troy, and Albany come to mind with similar rates of economic disadvantage and disability, but varying graduation rates.

Also, as a parent of three children served by the Albany City School District, it is worth noting that these number illustrate the need to reach a larger population. They do not indicate an absence of excellence across the board.

@Ike -- People with children with disabilities will go to the schools that will serve them. At least one of the "excellent" suburban districts on this list is famous (infamous) for making services impossible to get - and therefore has a very low rate of disabled students. It's not a geographic miracle.

@Jin -- Yes. Rensselaer, for instance, has 472 kids in grades 7-12. So even a couple of students difference will affect those rates. At least a couple of the other districts you name suffer similarly from size.

Despite our own school district having made some needed improvements, these numbers are entirely disheartening. It's a colossal social failure that starts with the breakdown of families and then circles back around to more breakdown of families. I've lived next to drop-outs, and I've seen firsthand the lack of parenting that sends the signal, passed from generation to generation. No magical teacher or administrator is going to reach down and counter that effect.

That said, let's create some more standardized tests!

I believe part of the responsibility can be put on the parents of students in many of these situations. Are they making sure their child gets to school every day? It's well know that low graduation rates and high absenteeism rates go hand and hand. We no longer send our children to work to help support their families, so there is no acceptable reason to me that a child is not in school unless they are sick.

Have they filled out the required yearly form so their child can receive free or reduced meals at school, so hunger will not affect their performance?

Do they make sure that their child does their homework? Do they read with their child the books their child picks out from the school or public library?

You don't need money to know that your child's chances of succeeding are greatly improved by having an education. Nor, do you need money to carry out any of the above suggestions.

@Carl: I agree with much of what you wrote but I would like to go one step further and provide some of the larger context.

The cause of this family breakdown and the breakdown of the schools is one and the same: the general yet gradual enough breakdown of American society due to a predatory economic system which guarantees that at least some people will always be displaced.

This has shifted in recent years, as the very things that had created the basis for American capitalism *and* the American middle class (education, infrastructure, the social safety net) are increasingly cut in terms of funding and/or abandoned in favor of private schemes (read: "gimmicks;" look no further than charter schools or Obama's "chained CPI" for Social Security) that provide lucrative investment opportunities for the private sector (sometimes referred to as "corporate welfare"), but little for the poor, working, and middle classes.

The bad news is that the vicissitudes of fortune that the poor and working class have long been subjected to (let's not forget incarceration!) are now being unleashed against the middle class (one piece of evidence: suburbs now have poverty rates growing at twice the rate of urban areas) in a desperate effort to keep profits going.

On the bright side, this potentially opens the door for the middle class to begin resisting this usurpation.

"We no longer send our children to work to help support their families, so there is no acceptable reason to me that a child is not in school unless they are sick."

And that, right there, demonstrates the complete disconnect that exists between the haves and the have nots, within just a few miles.

You may not require your kid to work to support YOUR family. But it still happens, for sure.

@cincinnatus -- Respectfully, in my view what causes the breakdown of the family has nothing to do with government or capitalism. It's people having kids, and then choosing not to raise them. It's divorce and absentee fathers. It's not taking responsibility.

abby, When writing that comment, I was thinking of the second grader that missed 88 days of school and the other 800 PreK - 6th grade students in Albany that missed more than 20 days of school during the 2010-2011 school year. I highly doubt they are working in the sweat shops supporting their families...but maybe I'm wrong?

If parents can't get them to school in the early years, just how does anyone expect them to attend and finish high school?


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