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The Need

To determine whether the New York City Department of Education is adequately preparing students for post-secondary institutions, the New York State Comptroller conducted a College Readiness Audit that covered the period from September 2015 through March 2022.

Over the past several years, NYC DOE has reported increases in the percentage of students graduating from its high schools, yet the percentage of students whom it has determined to be college ready has continuously lagged. For example, in 2019, 77.3% of high school students citywide graduated. However, according to the city’s own official statement, only 54.9% of all students in the Class of 2019 graduated from high school ready for college. Indeed, a high school diploma far too rarely correlates with college readiness — especially for low-income students. 

Moreover, the 2016 Diploma Disparities report shows that the prolonged growth in overall citywide graduation rates is driven largely by gains at higher performing schools. Chart 2 displays the 334 schools that graduated students every year between 2011 and 2015. 

The Diploma Disparities report states, “...while high schools in the highest performing quintile saw their graduation rates jump from 93 percent to 97 percent, those in the lowest quintile experienced an 11 [point] drop, from 61 percent to 50 percent.” Unfortunately, schools with low graduation rates and even lower college readiness levels are most heavily concentrated in low-income communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

For example, of the nearly 1,600 public school students beginning high school in 2015 in the Soundview section of the Bronx (District 12 of NYC public schools), only 7 percent graduated ready for college four years later (as measured by the percentage of students who passed the Regents with Advanced Designation). A shocking 93 percent of students either dropped out of high school before completing their senior year, or they did manage to graduate, but would still be required to take remedial classes in community college due to low math and reading scores on state exams. 

It does not have to be this way.

In their College Readiness Audit, the New York State Comptroller found that “DOE should do more to prepare students to be college ready regardless of the post-secondary pathway they decide to take (e.g., enroll in college, get a job, pursue a trade, enlist in the military), and this preparation should begin much earlier in students’ school years.” Moreover, the New York State Education Department in its plan for Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), explicitly states the goal to provide students more access to rigorous high school coursework as a strategy to advance educational equity.

Vertex Partnership Academies is doing just that, offering a world class, virtues-based, International Baccalaureate education in the Bronx. Learn more about our academic philosophy here.