Do NYS Graduation Measures Adequately Prepare Students for Career and/or College?

We all know that the primary purpose of high school is to keep teenagers and parents apart to reduce patricide, matricide and infanticide, that being said …

Over the past month I have blogged a number of times over the current year-long process to review graduate measures, commonly known as high school graduation requirements.

The elephant in the room, the topic that will not be discussed is equity.

Educational funding in New York State is dramatically inequitable,

Despite New York’s equalizing State aid system, there remain tremendous disparities between New York State school districts in fiscal resources available to support education. In 2015-16, approved operating expenditure per pupil ranged from $11,072 for the district at the 10th percentile to $21,135 for the district at the 90th percentile, a 91 percent difference.

 In a class of thirty students the difference between the 10th percentile and the 90th percentile of $300,000 per class!

This deeply corrupt system is embedded in state law. Most funding comes from property taxes (local budgets in the Big Five cities), the differences across the state, as described above, are enormous. The Foundation Aid formula is supposed, to the extent possible, move towards equalizing funding. The completely indecipherable formula contains a “save harmless” guarantee; no district can receive less funding, regardless of changes in enrollment. There are other “formulas” that make sure that the most political powerful sections of the state retain funding. Whatever the result of the graduation measures and final determination by the Board of Regents the dollars will continue to flow through the deeply flawed legislation.

State Senator Shelly Mayer, the chair of the Education Committee, is holding hearings on the Foundation Aid formula across the state. I will be testifying at the December 3rd hearing (I’ll post my testimony)

We frequently see the term, “college and career ready,” the word “career” is simply an add-on.

In an introduction to a new book Marc Tucker writes, “The issue of whether we have a vocational education system worth having is an existential issue. If we don’t solve it, we will have a very large proportion our young adult population either without jobs or with jobs that pay next to nothing or all of the above.”

The book, “Vocational Education and Training for a Global Economy: Lessons from Four Countries In-Depth Case Studies Show Different Approaches to Preparing Young People for an Increasingly Complex Economy.”  explores vocational education in four nations We divide academic, and what we call “career and technical education,” aka vocational education in two discrete types of education, one for the elite and the other for the non-academic. The report abjures,

A first-rate primary and secondary education system that provides a strong academic foundation for all students, whether they want to pursue a primarily academic education or a more applied form of technical education;

A forward-looking, constantly adapting, skills standards system that assures employers that prospective employees have the knowledge and skills they are looking for, focuses the curriculum offered by education and training organizations on that knowledge and gives students of all ages confidence that, if they invest in the knowledge and skills on offer, they will be rewarded in the labor market by the employers;

 Work-based learning that provides opportunities for students to acquire strong, transferrable technical and social skills of the kind spelled out in the skills standards in places that are like those in which they are seeking employment

 While vocational education (CTE) in New York State and the rest of the nation is a lesser alternative to college tracks; in e rest of the world it is an equal pathway. In many of the European Union (EU) nations 50% of students are in what the European call Vocational Education Training (VET), (See detailed report).  A crucial part of the EU VET programs are apprenticeships,  in place by EU regulation and agreements with major employers. Schools in our states and nation scramble to find apprenticeships.

At the community college level completion rates are appalling,

… the National Center for Education Statistics shows that only 13 percent of community college students graduate in two years. Within three years, approximately 22 percent of students graduate, and within four years, the rate stands at 28 percent.

 Are secondary schools adequately preparing students?  Why is it necessary for students entering community colleges to take non-credit class in English, Mathematics and Writing?  Or, are life circumstances for students in poverty so crushing that continuing in school is not an option.

… life circumstances for these demographics, including financial constraints, transportation and child care needs, can hinder goals to finish the educational process and obtain a degree in a traditional timeframe. Therefore, many of the students who show up in reports as “dropouts” did not leave school because they wanted to; rather, they were compelled to by some uncontrollable life event

On the brighter side the CUNY ASAP program is innovative and targeted to the needs of students,

CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) helps students earn associate degrees within three years by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports including comprehensive and personalized advisement, career counseling, tutoring, waivers for tuition and mandatory fees, MTA MetroCards, and additional financial assistance to defray the cost of textbooks.

ASAP also offers special class scheduling options to ensure that ASAP students get the classes they need, are in classes with other ASAP students, and attend classes in convenient blocks of time to accommodate their work schedules. As students approach graduation, they receive special supports to help them transfer to 4-year colleges or transition into the workforce, depending on their goals.

 The ASAP program has been closely followed with external evaluations.

  • There are large and significant differences between ASAP and comparison group students in terms of retention, movement through developmental course work, credit accumulation, and graduation rates. ASAP’s current cross-cohort three-year graduation rate is 53% vs. 23% for comparison group students.
  • Students who start ASAP with developmental needs also graduate at high rates: After three years, 48% of ASAP students with developmental needs graduated vs. 21% of comparison group students with developmental needs.
  • Students from underrepresented groups appear to see even greater benefits from ASAP than other students.
  • Most importantly, ASAP students graduate at more than double the rates of non-ASAP students.

 Are the core questions graduation rates and continuing Regents Exams, or should it include the structure of secondary schools and the supports available to students?

The New York State six-year graduation rate is 84.4% and has continued to edge upward; however the increasing graduation rates should not be the goal of the graduation measures year-long process. Are we pushing kids out of high schools, with diplomas, who are not prepared for college or work?

The graduation measure exploration is an opportunity to take a dive, let’s hope there’s water in the pool.

One response to “Do NYS Graduation Measures Adequately Prepare Students for Career and/or College?

  1. Ahhh? Not…


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