Graduation rates higher at smaller NYC high schools: study

Credit: Metro File Photo
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been an advocate for smaller schools. Credit: Metro Archives

Smaller schools championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg have better on-time graduation rates, according to a study published Monday.

Some 70 percent of students at small high schools graduated on time, 9.5 percent more than those at other city high schools, a study by the nonprofit research group MDRC found.

“With the nation’s attention focused on turning around failing urban high schools, this study provides convincing evidence that large-scale transformation is possible in an urban public school system,” MDRC President Gordon Berlin said in a statement on the findings.

Since 2002, the Bloomberg administration has closed 31 large, failing high schools and opened more than 200 new small schools intended to serve the most disadvantaged students. MRDC’s study looked at 25 of these schools.

Enrolling some 100 students per grade, admittance at the schools is based on a lottery. Only 61 percent of students who tried to enroll in smaller schools but lost the lottery graduated on time.

Principals and teachers interviewed by the research group said they believe the smaller schools imposed higher academic rigor and fostered relationships with students.

“While more certainly needs to be done if all students are to be prepared for college and careers, the small school strategy as implemented in New York provides a blueprint for future reforms across the nation,” Berlin added.

The study also found students at the smaller high schools scored about 7 percent higher on English exams than those students who couldn’t enroll. Math scores did not see an improvement in the smaller schools.

This year, middle school test scores decreased significantly after the state enacted tougher standards.

Bloomberg said the harder Common Core test would better prepare middle school students to graduate high school on time and continue their education.

“We have to make sure that we give our kids constantly the opportunity to move towards the major leagues,” he said at the time.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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