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Grad rates could fall under new rules, but officials aren't worried

The City Council’s education committee this morning is taking up concerns that the city could be in for a rude awakening in the coming years as high school graduation requirements become more stringent.

In the past, students could opt for either of two diploma types: The local diploma requires scores of at least 55 on five state Regents exams, while the more challenging Regents diploma requires those scores to be 65 or higher.

Starting with this year’s ninth-graders, all students will have to earn Regents diplomas. Some advocates are warning that the state’s new requirement could slash the city’s graduation rate, particularly for needy students. They point out that if that requirement had been in place five years ago, the city’s graduation rate would stand at just 37 percent.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein said yesterday that he is confident the city’s schools are up for the challenge, adding that the new rules would generate a “rising tide” that would help all schools do better. About the state’s new rule, he said, “I supported that change, and I continue to support that change.”

The map above, which appeared in the Center for New York City Affairs report about small schools, shows the distribution of all graduates across the city in 2007. It includes students who earned both kinds of diplomas.

Below, see what the map would have looked like had the new rules been in effect for the Class of 2007:

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