College and Career Readiness. It’s the latest mantra by the New York State Education Department under the New York State Board of Regents reform agenda as they decided that “it is important to establish and report aspirational performance measures to be used by schools, districts, and parents to better inform them of the progress of their students.”
As a result, the New York State Education Department (SED) has moved from a simple “graduation rate” for districts, previously defined as the percentage of students entering grade 9 and graduating four years later (the same cohort) to instead using several indicators of student success which are much more comprehensive in scope.
The new methodology, according to NYSED spokesperson Ken Wagner, will measure graduation rates at four, five and six year groupings or cohorts as well as noting who earned a “Regents Diploma with Distinction, in Career and technical Education, the arts, or a language other than English and also the students in the cohort who graduated with a local, Regents, or Regents with Advanced Designation diploma and earned a score of 75 or greater on the New York State English Language Arts Exam (ELA) or an 80 or greater on a Math Regents.”
But why? What’s the importance, one might ask of the new change? It’s meant to measure a student’s readiness for career and college and also indicate how well a specific school district is doing in readying their students for post-secondary success. Analyzing trend data, SED determined that a score of 75 percent on the New York State English Language Art Regents exam and a score of 80 percent or better on a Math Regents exam meant a strong likelihood that students would be successful in college or post high school study. Otherwise, with scores less than this, students would need remedial course work in the freshman year of college causing extra college expense for the students and their families and delaying students’ progress in their college program.
So how did Lake Placid students do? Very well! Ninety-two percent of our students who started in grade 9 in 2006 graduated with their cohort in June 2010 while statewide, 73.4 percent of the students graduated.
The previous year’s graduation rate for the Lake Placid 2005 cohort was again 92 percent versus 71.8 percent for the rest of the state. The graduation rate is defined as a number of students in a cohort who earned a Regents or local diploma divided by the total number of students in that cohort.
To me, as superintendent of schools, there is no greater compliment to a district then ensuring its graduates are able to follow their aspirations after graduation and it appears that our students are able to do just that — following the efforts of talented and caring faculty and staff.
However, we will need to continue to strive for excellence as the target is not static but is continually changing and quite rapidly at that! The State Education Department is implementing new assessments, new scoring methods, and common core standards.
Thus, the Lake Placid Central School District must respond to these challenges and changes by continuing to map and adjust our curriculum, provide intense staff development and monitor and evaluate teaching and learning and our overall progress in all areas while all the while being mindful of decreasing resources.
For my next article, I will address our efforts to work with students at risk.
Source: Wagner, Ken Assistant Commissioner for NYS SED Data Systems