Despite the Bloomberg administration’s investment in hundreds of new high schools, students from low-income neighborhoods graduate with the lowest levels of college-readiness according to a new report.
The report, “Is Demography Still Destiny?”, was released by the non-profit Annenberg Institute for School Reform, which is affiliated with Brown University. It relied on 2011 graduation data broken down by student zip codes, and used the city’s definition of college-readiness which translates to a score of 80 on the Math Regents and at least 75 on the English Regents. It finds:
-Only 8 percent of students from Mott Haven, in the South Bronx, graduate ready for college, while nearly 80 percent of students from Tribeca are college-ready.
-In neighborhoods with 100 percent black and Latino residents, no more than 10 percent of high school graduates are ready for college.
-In Manhattan neighborhoods with the highest college-readiness rates, fewer than 10 percent of the residents are black or Latino.
“What this means is that after 10 years of all kinds of reforms, most of the kids in our city and especially most of the kids who live in poor and predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods are graduating not ready for college,” said Norman Fruchter, a principal associate at the Annenberg Institute. He addressed a press conference outside Pace University in Lower Manhattan attended by several community groups and two possible 2013 mayoral candidates, Comptroller John Liu and former Comptroller Bill Thompson, who ran for mayor in 2009.
Also included was an interactive map that lets you see the college readiness rate.
The report found several neighborhood socio-economic factors were also associated with college readiness, such as a mother’s level of education, unemployment rates and citizenship status.
Despite these grim findings, the Department of Education said its efforts are paying off.
“In the last 10 years, graduation rates have increased, test scores have improved and more students are prepared for college and careers – including more black and Latino students,” said spokeswoman Erin Hughes. “There is much more work to do, which is why we are finding new ways to make even more progress.”
The D.O.E. notes that college readiness rates for black students have risen from 8 percent in 2005 to 13 percent in 2011. For Hispanic students, college readiness has risen from 8 percent in
2005 to 15 percent in 2011.
Middle school scores are also rising following an effort to strengthen literacy instruction, though citywide proficiency rates on the 2012 English Language arts exams for grades 6-8 are still below 50 percent.
For the first time this year the city will include a school’s college readiness rate in its overall progress report grade due out next week.
The city is currently investing millions of dollars in the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), a pilot in 40 schools aimed at boosting the number of black and Latino young men who graduate high school prepared for college and careers.
The Annenberg report calls on the city to distribute high school guidance counselors more equitably, and to invest more money in school improvement strategies instead of relying so heavily on creating new schools.
Brooklyn parent Natasha Capers said additional resources are needed to level the playing field for all schools, so children don’t have to travel to other boroughs for high school or enter lotteries for a limited number of seats in charter schools. Her two children attend P.S. 298 Dr. Betty Shabazz in Brownsville, a neighborhood where 11 percent of students were found ready for college.
“Our former chancellor [Joel] Klein said no longer are resources and zip code a determinant of where our children end up but we all know that’s a lie,” she said, adding that her school has an outdated computer lab and hasn’t had a librarian in years. “We need people to come into the communities and see what’s lacking.”