THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

Full Board

FROM:

Jean C. Stevens

 

SUBJECT:

Closing the Achievement Gap:  Setting a Target for High School Graduation Rate

DATE:

October 16, 2006

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Discussion

 

What direction should the Board of Regents give to staff for next steps in setting a target for graduation rate as part of the Regents strategy for improving high schools?

 

Reason(s) for Consideration

 

Review of policy.

 

Proposed Handling

 

This question will come before the Full Board in October.

 

Procedural History

 

The Regents have received and discussed proposed strategies to close the gap in high schools and to improve graduation rates.  In September, the Regents received possible options for establishing accountability targets for graduation and high school attendance rates.


 

Background Information

 

          Among the potential strategies to close the gap in high schools is to set targets for graduation for all students. The Regents would use the accountability provisions under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and Schools Under Registration Review (SURR) to establish consequences for districts and schools that do not make adequate progress.  The attached report provides a conceptual proposal for setting graduation rates, an analysis of the likely effect of establishing more rigorous targets, the possible consequences for schools that fail to meet these targets as well as the resources available to support such schools, and a snapshot of research-based strategies for improving graduation rates.

 

Recommendation

 

Staff recommend that the Regents review the proposal on setting a target for graduation rate and provide direction for staff on next steps.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

Based on the direction of the Regents, actions/discussions would be scheduled on the 24-month Regents calendar.

 


Setting Targets for Graduation Rate

 

Background Information

 

New Yorkís approved NCLB accountability plan requires New York to replace the graduation rate cohort now used for accountability with the Total Cohort, the more inclusive cohort that has been the basis of the graduation-rate reports provided to the Regents in December 2004 and 2005.  This requirement begins with the 2003 cohort and will be used for accountability in 2007-08.  Simultaneous with the transition to this new definition could be the establishment of new, more rigorous graduation targets.  

 

          The current graduation-rate standard for accountability is 55 percent, lower even than the 64 percent four-year graduation rate achieved by the 2001 Total Cohort. A higher graduation rate standard would communicate clearly to districts and schools the Regents expectation that all students graduate from high school.

 

A higher standard will work to improve graduation rates in two ways:  (1) more schools will be required to raise their rates; and (2) the lowest performing schools will be required to increase graduations at a faster rate.  With the current standard, only schools below 55 percent are required to improve and those schools are only required to improve by one percentage point per year.

 

Tables 1 and 2 illustrate graduation rates of the 2000 Total Cohort after five years and the 2001 Total Cohort after four years. Some things to note about these data:

 

       These rates count graduates as of June 30 and do not include August graduates.

       In 2007-08 when the Total Cohort is used for graduation-rate accountability, the rate will include students who graduate in August of the fourth year of high school.

       The tables include graduation rates for schools with cohorts of 30 or more students.

       There are 178 schools whose 2000 total cohort graduation rates after five years is below 70%.  Staff are developing a methodology to move schools onto or off of the list of targeted high schools.  (To date the Department has identified 127 high schools that have a graduation rate lower than 70% and are either a School Requiring Academic Progress or a School in Need of Improvement.)

 

 

Table 1

2000 Total Cohort Graduation Rate After Five Years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation Rate Interval

Number of Schools

Percent of Schools

below 55

86

9.8

55 to 59%

23

2.6

60 to 64%

30

3.4

65 to 69%

39

4.4

70 to 74%

48

5.5

75 to 79%

82

9.3

80 to 84%

143

16.3

85 to 89%

146

16.6

90 to 94%

168

19.1

95 to100%

115

13.1

Total

880

100.0

 

Table 2

2001 Total Cohort Graduation Rate After Four Years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graduation Rate Interval

Number of Schools

Percent of Schools

below 55

185

20.4

55 to 59%

29

3.2

60 to 64%

33

3.6

65 to 69%

63

7.0

70 to 74%

84

9.3

75 to 79%

109

12.0

80 to 84%

122

13.5

85 to 89%

127

14.0

90 to 94%

97

10.7

95 to100%

57

6.3

Total

906

100.0

 

Of the reported schools, only 17 percent have graduation rates of 90 percent or higher after four years, but 32.2 percent achieve that rate after five years.  Adding August graduates to the four-year rate would increase it by an unknown but probably significant amount.

 

 

 

To set a higher standard for graduation rate, the Board must make two critical decisions:

 

       What should the State standard or goal for graduation rate be?

Staff recommend that the target be set at 90%.

 

       How much improvement should schools below that standard be required to make each year? 

Staff recommend that the Board adopt the improvement schedule described below. It is our understanding from discussions with key school leaders that this would represent a more aggressive approach than other options discussed, but one that is achieveable by districts across the State.

 

This option would begin with the 2006 Total Cohort, (the cohort of students who entered ninth grade in 2006) with the following annual percentage point increases required to close the gap between the 2004 Total Cohort graduation rate and the State standard of 90 percent:

       Schools with a graduation rate below 55%                            3 % per year

       Schools with a graduation rate between 55% and 74.9 %      2 % per year

       Schools with a graduation rate between 75% and 89.9%       1% per year

 

The table provided in Attachment A shows how the graduation rate targets would play out for 11 schools that fall across the entire spectrum of graduation rate performance for the 2001 cohort.

 

 

Research-Based Strategies for Improving Graduation Rate

 

The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) in its Getting Serious About High School Graduation report has outlined four strategies to increase graduation rate. "1) Set ambitious high school graduation targets for all groups of students and make them a part of state accountability systems. 2) Focus attention on the ninth grade. 3) Reform high schools, particularly those that are low performing, to make them more relevant to and effective for all students. 4) Communicate key stay-in-school messages to students in danger of dropping out and to their families."

 

In Dollars & Sense: the cost effectiveness of small schools, Lawrence, et al suggest that "small schools, though slightly more expensive on a per-student basis, are more cost effective than large schools on a per graduate basis, since they graduate a significantly larger number of students." As SREB's Getting Serious About High School Graduation report says "small size offers many advantages that can help promote teacher professionalism and student learning."

 

According to Getting Serious About High School Graduation, the most commonly suggested strategies for preventing high school dropout and increasing graduation rates are:

 

 

Consequences for Schools That Fail To Meet Graduation-Rate Targets

 

Schools that fail to meet their graduation-rate targets for two consecutive years are identified as Schools Requiring Academic Progress under the State accountability system.  Schools that have received Title I funding in each of those years are also identified as Schools in Need of Improvement under Title 1. To be removed from improvement status, the school must make their target for two consecutive years. In any year that an identified school again fails to meet its target, it advances to the next level of identification. Under the State system, it goes from School Requiring Academic Progress (SRAP) Year 1 to Year 2, Year 3, and so on.  If a School in Need of Improvement (SINI) continues to receive Title I funding, it will advance from Year 1 to Year 2, Corrective Action, Planning for Restructuring and Restructuring.

 

Table 4 notes the key requirements for schools at each level under the State and federal systems.

 

Table 4

Requirements for Schools in Improvement Status

 

State Status

Requirements

Federal Status

Requirements

SRAP (Year 1)

School Improvement Plan

SINI (Year 1)

Public School Choice

School improvement plan

SRAP (Year 2)

School Improvement Plan

SINI (Year 2)

Public School Choice

Supplemental Educational Services

School improvement plan

SRAP (Year 3)

Corrective Action Plan

Corrective Action

Public School Choice

Supplemental Educational Services

Corrective Action Plan

SRAP (Year 4)

Plan for Restructuring

Planning for Restructuring

Public School Choice

Supplemental Educational Services

Plan for Restructuring

SRAP (Year 5)

Restructuring

Restructuring

Public School Choice

Supplemental Educational Services

Restructuring

 

The primary source of technical assistance and support for SRAP schools are local school districts, with assistance from the Departmentís regional technical assistance centers.  Schools in Need of Improvement, or in Corrective Action, Planning for Restructuring or Restructuring status receive support from SED-funded Regional School Support Centers as well as other SED affiliated technical assistance networks. Districts with schools in federal improvement status also receive grants to support implementation of improvement plans. 

 

Graduation rate could also be used to identify Schools Under Registration Review (SURR). The Commissioner would identify those schools with graduation rates farthest from State standards.  SURR schools are given performance targets by the Commissioner that they must meet or risk having their registration revoked. Upon identification, SURR schools are subject to a registration review visit conducted by an external team led by a District Superintendent.  Upon completion of the visit by the team, the school is required to develop a school improvement plan and the district is required to develop a corrective action plan.  Each SURR school is assigned an SED liaison who is on-site from one day per week to one day per month, depending on which part of the process the school is implementing. SURR schools are eligible to receive a State-funded SURR grant and receive the highest priority for support from the Regional School Support Centers and affiliated SED networks. 

 

In addition to the resources identified above for each category of school, the Regents State budget priorities include a request to provide $13 million in the first year and $39 million upon full implementation for a program of academic intervention teams and distinguished educators.

 

Under the proposal, the Commissioner will assign an academic intervention team to each school and district in the State that is identified for corrective action.  The purpose of the intervention teams is to build the capacity of local educational agencies to successfully undertake corrective actions that result in improved student achievement consistent with State standards.  Teams made up of administrators and content experts will provide targeted technical assistance in at-risk schools.  A substantial portion of this proposed funding would support schools identified for graduation results.

 

 

Next Step

 

          Direction for staff is needed from the Board of Regents on whether staff should provide additional information to inform the Boardís decision to set a target for graduation rate or develop preliminary regulatory language to implement policy that sets a State standard and targets for improving the graduation rate of school districts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Attachment A

 

Recommendation: Beginning with the 2006 Cohort each school below 55 percent must increase by 3 percentage points annually; each school between 55 and 74.9 percent must increase by 2 percentage points annually; and each school between 75 and 89.9 percent must increase by 1 percentage point annually.

 

District

School

2001 Total Cohort

Graduation-Rate Target for

Total Stu-dents

Number of grad-uates

Percent Grad-uates

2004 Cohort (1%)

 2005 Cohort

2006 Cohort

2007 Cohort

2008 Cohort

2009 Cohort

2010 Cohort

2011 Cohort

Greenburgh-Graham

Martin Luther King,Jr

33

2

6.1%

7.1%

8.1%

11.1%

14.1%

17.1%

202.1%

23.1%

26.1%

New York City CSD # 3

Louis D. Brandeis

457

158

34.6%

35.6%

36.6%

39.6%

42.6%

45.6%

48.6%

51.6%

54.6%

Buffalo City

Bennett

340

161

47.4%

48.4%

49.4%

52.4%

55.4%

58.4%

61.4%

64.4%

67.4%

New York City CSD #10

University Heights

82

49

59.8%

60.8%

61.8%

63.8%

65.8%

67.8%

69.8%

71.8%

73.8%

Oneonta City

Oneonta Senior

162

112

69.1%

70.1%

71.1%

73.1%

75.1%

76.1%

77.1%

78.1%

79.1%

New York City CSD #2

Manhattan Village Academy

72

54

75.0%

76.0%

77.0%

78.0%

79.0%

80.0%

81.0%

82.0%

83.0%

Broadalbin-Perth

Broadalbin-Perth

139

110

79.1%

80.1%

81.1%

82.1%

83.1%

84.1%

85.1%

86.1%

87.1%

Perry Central

Perry HS

94

79

84.0%

85.0%

86.0%

87.0%

88.0%

89.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

Cazenovia Central

Cazenovia HS

146

128

87.7%

88.7%

89.7%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

Levittown

Division Avenue Senior HS

248

230

92.7%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

Blind Brook-Rye

Blind Brook HS

75

75

100.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%

90.0%