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At turnaround schools, wide range in college readiness rates

A handful of the high schools the city wants to “turn around” are already doing a better-than-average job at preparing students for college.

The schools all posted graduation rates below 60 percent two years ago, when the state compiled a list of “persistently low-achieving” schools that would receive federal funds in exchange for making substantive organizational and programmatic changes.

Since then, both city and state officials have said that whether students are prepared for college, not graduation rates, is the best measure of high schools’ performance. Last year, the state introduced a new metric to calculate the percentage of graduates considered college-ready at each high school. That metric now appears on the progress reports that the city uses to assess high schools, although it has not yet been factored into the schools’ scores.

We looked at the 23 high schools on the turnaround list and charted their college readiness rates against the city average, 21.5 percent. We found that four schools matched or exceeded the city’s average readiness rate.

The schools were John Dewey High School, William Cullen Bryant High School, Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School, and the School for Global Studies, all in Brooklyn.

Our chart is also a reminder that many schools face a progress report shakeup when the college readiness rates are factored in next year. Some schools that fall solidly in the middle of the turnaround pack in college readiness got D’s or F’s on the progress reports; some of the lowest performers got A’s or B’s.

We excluded two transfer high schools, Bushwick Community High School and Harlem Renaissance High School, from our chart because the city offered a different college readiness average for transfer schools, which enroll students who have already struggled at traditional high schools. Both schools fell short of the 3.4 percent college readiness rate for transfer schools. At Harlem Renaissance, no student met the state’s criteria to be considered ready for college.

UPDATE: Because of a data error, the original version of the chart and story did not include Bryant High School as one of the schools whose college readiness rate exceeded the city average. The original version of the chart and story said that William Grady High School had a higher-than-average readiness rate. It does not.

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