Graduation Rates of ELLs Decline in NYC Schools

New York City Department of Education officials say that the graduation rate for English Language Learners fell by almost 5 percent for the Class of 2012, in part because of tougher accountability standards. Latinos make up a large part of the  city’s ELL student population.

The overall graduation rate for June graduates declined slightly to 60.4 percent for the Class of 2012, down from 60.4 percent the previous year. According to WNYC, the ELL graduation rate was about 35.4 percent.

Officials in part said it was due to requiring a higher passing rate of a 65 on the English Regents exam. Previously, a 55 was required to graduate.

According to a press release from the department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, additional funding of more than $4 million will be provided to 25 schools to help provide teachers training on ELLs and also will pair the schools with those who have a track record of strong performance with ELLs. Other efforts could include extended day options, more bilingual programs and new special materials.

New York University education professor Pedro Noguera told NBC Latino that the extra support is encouraging, given the achievement gaps that exist.

“There are still a large number of schools in the city’s poorest neighborhoods where the most disadvantaged ELLs are concentrated,” Noguera said.. “What we know is that when you segregate kids, you deny them access to English language speakers and with that, the resources that they need.”

Related Links:

– “Bloomberg Defends Lower Graduation Rates,” WNYC.

– “NY graduation rates stable,” The Wall Street Journal.

– New Release on Graduation Rates, New York City Department of Education. 

Latino Test Performance Varies Significantly by State

It’s often said that the zip code a child is born into is a strong predictor of their future academic performance and the quality of education that they will receive. But perhaps the same can be said about the state where a child is born.

The New York Times recently reported on an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics of the five states with the largest populations, showing the different performance levels of Latino students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exam.

Those “mega-states” studied are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. Th five states enroll more than half of the country’s English language learners, a total of 2.9 million–nearly 1.5 million of whom are in California. They also enroll about 40 percent of the nation’s public school students, or 18.7 million students.

NAEP scores are seen as the best tool by which to compare academic performance across state lines.

One notable headline: California Latino students struggled considerably across the board, while Florida and Texas were strong-performers. While the analysis also shows that Latino students continue to lag white students considerably in performance on the tests (full report here), there was considerable variation in Latino performance between states.

The percentage of Latino eighth-graders performing at the proficient level or above in math in 2011 are below, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 13%, Florida: 22%; Illinois: 19%; New York: 13%; Texas: 31%; Nation: 20%.

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in reading in 2011, in which Florida and Illinois led the nation:

California: 14%; Florida: 27%; Illinois: 23%; New York: 20%; Texas: 17%; Nation: 18%.

The performance of fourth-graders proficient or higher in math, in which Florida and Texas leading:

California: 17%; Florida: 31%; Illinois: 20%; New York: 20%; Texas: 29%. Nation: 24%.

The performance of  Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in reading was as follows in 2011, with Florida leading:

California: 12%;  Florida: 30%Illinois: 18%; New York: 20%; Texas: 19%; Nation: 18%.

And here is the performance of Latino fourth-graders proficient or higher in science in 2009, with Texas and Florida leading:

California: 8%; Florida: 23%; Illinois: 10%; New York: 13%; Texas: 16%; Nation: 13%

And the performance of Latino eighth-graders proficient or higher in science, with Texas leading the nation:

California: 11%; Florida: 24%; Illinois: 11%; New York: 12%; Texas: 23%; Nation: 16%.

Jack Buckley, commissioner of the NCES, said there was no “consistent pattern among these states,” The Times reported. And that, “each state seems to have areas where it shines and others where they lag behind its counterparts.”

The analysis includes the data broken out by other racial/ethnic categories and factors such as income and ELL status.

Learn more about the analysis of performance in the top five largest states here.

Related Links:

– “Test Scores of Hispanics Vary Widely Across 5 Most Populous States, Analysis Shows,” The New York Times. 

– Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation. 









NAACP Says Entry Exam Bars Blacks, Latinos from Top N.Y. Schools

Several civil rights organizations  filed a complaint on Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights arguing that the exam determining admissions to the most elite New York City public high schools effectively discriminates against black and Latino students.

The complaint filed by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund focuses on eight competitive admissions high schools. The most prominent and nationally known schools among the group are Stuyvesant High School and Bronx Science.

The NAACP press release notes that the Latino Justice PRLDEF also joined in the complaint. A number of other organizations also support the complaint.

Reuters reports that even though blacks and Latinos make up more than half of New York City residents, at Stuyvesant High, Latinos represent only about 2.4 percent of  the enrollment and black students, 1.2 percent. Asians make up more than two-thirds of the students at Stuyvesant.

The complaint places the blame on the multiple-choice Specialized High School Admissions test, which is alone what admissions are based on. Reuters reports that the group wants the schools to base admissions on more than just a test–expanding considerations to grades, attendance, recommendations, interviews and writing samples.

The NAACP press release says that of 967 eighth-graders offered admission to Stuyvesant this year, 19 (2 percent) were black and 32 (3.3 percent) were Latino.

“Without a predictive validity study, there is no way that the NYCDOE can know whether the test provides useful information,” said Damon Hewitt, director of the education practice group at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc, in the NAACP press release.  “And education experts agree that using a test as the only factor to make a high stakes decision is bad educational policy. It also defies common sense. Even elite institutions like Harvard do not misuse tests in this way.”

This is not the first time that disparities in the city’s elite schools have been in the spotlight.

Related Links:

– “Civil rights group to file complaint over entry test for elite New York high schools.” Reuters. 

– NAACP press release

New York to Award Special Recognition to Bilingual High School Graduates

New York state will begin awarding a state seal of biliteracy to high school graduates who demonstrate that they are proficient in two or more languages. The state follows California, which in January became the first state in the country to award a similar seal.

Students must demonstrate they are proficient in listening, speaking, reading and writing another language.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he had signed a bill into law this week enacting the new seal. It will be attached to diplomas and high school transcripts and will go into effect on September 1. “Giving the proper credentials for those students who are proficient in English and a second language will be instantly recognizable as an achievement of language proficiency for both colleges and employers,” bill co-sponsor State Senator Joseph Robach said in a press release. 

California recently awarded its first seals to the graduating Class of 2012 and more than 10,000 students earned the distinction. The Press-Enterprise newspaper in California reported that many students  and school administrators hope the seal will help their odds of finding work. “We feel it strengthens students’ ability to work in our community and in other communities where there’s a bilingual population,”  San Bernardino schools spokeswoman Linda Bardere told the newspaper.

According to the California Department of Education, about 70 percent of the students earning seals showed Spanish proficiency. To earn a California seal in a second language, students must meet certain criteria. Graduates must have a “C” average in their English language arts classes and show English proficiency on the eleventh grade California Standards Test.

In addition, they must also demonstrate proficiency in the other language by earning a three or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, passing an International Baccalaureate exam with a four or higher, or taking four years of foreign language courses in high school and earning a “B” average or higher.

Related Links:

– “New York becomes second state to recognize biliteracy.” Learning the Language blog. Education Week.

– “Governor Cuomo signs bill to recognize high school graduates who demonstrate proficiency in multiple languages.” Press Release.

– “New State celebrates ‘biliterate’ students.” The Press-Enterprise.

– “State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson announces more than 10,000 students earn new state seal of biliteracy.” California Department of Education.