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Better news for city on college readiness, but wide gap remains

Like the other large school districts in the state, New York City saw its graduation rate decline last year. But it bucked the trend when it came to graduates’ preparedness for college, posting an increase where the other districts did not.

In recent years, acknowledging that a high school diploma does not guarantee college success, the state and city have each begun calculating high school graduates’ college readiness rates.

The state calculates an “Aspirational Performance Measure,” or APM, based on the percentage of students who graduated in four years with at least a 75 on their English Regents exam and at least an 80 on a math Regents exam. Those benchmarks are important in predicting students’ success in college, according to the state.

New York City’s APM rose slightly, from 20.7 percent for students who entered high school in 2007 to 21.9 percent for students who entered high school in 2008.

While the state cautions that the year-to-year figures are not directly comparable because the Regents exams that students had to take changed during that time, it is true that the city’s APM rose while other districts with similar or smaller graduation rate declines saw their APMs fall.

Yonkers was the outlier, going from having 13.8 percent of students hitting the state’s college-ready metrics in four years to 22.8 percent. Statewide, 35.3 percent of students who entered high school in 2008 were considered college-ready four years later.

New York City calculates a different metric, the College Readiness Index, which reflects admissions and remediation standards at the City University of New York as well as scores on third-party exams such as the SAT. The city said in a press release that 43.6 percent of graduates (and a smaller percentage of the original cohort) hit that standard.

On the state’s measure, New York City’s racial achievement gap narrowed slightly as black and Hispanic students achieved the APM at a higher rate, while white students achieved it slightly less often than in 2011. Still, white students achieved the college-readiness metric more than three and a half times than black and Hispanic students, or 39.1 percent of the time for white students compared to 11.1 percent of the time for black students and 12.2 percent of the time for Hispanic students. Asian students hit the APM at the highest rate of all, 52.8 percent.

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