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Saturday, July 6, 2013

More Kids Drop Out of Transfer Schools Than Graduate

Dropouts top grads at transfer schools

  • Last Updated: 2:56 AM, July 6, 2013
  • Posted: 1:55 AM, July 6, 2013
The city’s second-chance high schools saw more students drop out than graduate in 2011-12 — a major drop in performance compared to a year earlier, a Post analysis found.
A review of 44 so-called “transfer” high schools showed that the schools collectively had 78 more students drop out than graduate during the 2011-12 academic year.
A year earlier, the same schools — which together serve about 12,000 students — graduated 619 more students than dropped out.
Overall, six-year graduation rates at transfer schools fell by about 4 percentage points — to 52 percent — from 2011 to 2012, according to the Department of Education.
The four-year citywide graduation rate dropped by almost 1 percentage point over the same span.
Principals at the second-chance schools, which serve overage or under-credited teens who struggled at their original high schools, attributed part of the decline to midyear policy changes by the Department of Education.
Rules for which courses count toward graduation were tightened to match state requirements in February 2012, after a DOE audit of 60 high schools found irregularities in student transcripts.
While school leaders said the clarification of requirements for earning a diploma was needed, they said the midyear timing created an 11th-hour obstacle for seniors who were already struggling to graduate.
“I don’t think they understand what it’s like to tell a kid who was expecting to graduate in June, ‘I’m sorry, you have to come back next semester — not because you flunked your classes, but because these classes that you thought, that we all thought, could count toward graduation, can’t,’ ” said one principal at a transfer school. “That was hugely frustrating for all of us, and there were a lot of tears.”
DOE officials, who have opened up dozens of transfer schools in recent years to offer smaller, more intimate environments for struggling students, said the February 2012 policy tweaks were minor.
Instead they attributed the drop in performance at second-chance schools to the increased standards needed to graduate.
The class of 2012 was the first that needed to pass all five Regents subject exams with a score of at least 65 out of 100.
Education officials noted that for students who entered ninth grade in 2005-06 but fell behind in credits, 47 percent of those who ended up at transfer schools graduated within six years, compared to 27 percent of those who stayed at regular high schools.
Still, about 26 percent of students enrolled in transfer schools in 2011-12 dropped out at some point during the school year, according to State Education Department data.
The school with the biggest gap between numbers of graduates and dropouts was Bushwick Community HS in Brooklyn, which had 67 students graduate in 2012, but saw 149 others drop out that same year.
Forsyth Satellite Academy in Manhattan and Bronx Regional HS were the schools with the next-largest gaps.
A handful of schools with insufficient data for 2011 or 2012 were excluded from The Post’s analysis.