urban youth collaborative

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New York

Students say new high school policies will require extra support

Student activists call for a greater focus on college readiness in city schools during a rally today. For some city teachers and students, the big news this week wasn't the release of teachers' ratings but a slew of new policies meant to crack down on graduation rate inflation. The new policies, which follow an audit that found errors and evidence of possible cheating at dozens of schools, change the way high school exams will be graded and limit the number of failed courses students can make up without repeating the class. Today, high school students said tougher expectations are a good thing — as long as they are coupled with more support for schools. The students were holding a rally and panel discussion at New York University Friday afternoon to draw attention to a campaign, spearheaded by City Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Robert Jackson, and several advocacy groups including the Urban Youth Collaborative and the Coalition for Educational Justice. For years, students affiliated with those groups have been urging the city to fund "success centers" inside schools where teens could get help preparing for college. And in 2009, CEJ began calling attention to a potential "looming crisis" posed by the state's increasingly tough graduation standards  — something a top Department of Education official told GothamSchools this week threatens to roll back graduation rates far more than the policy changes. The students I spoke to had not heard yet about new policies, which the department announced Thursday, and did not know how their schools might be affected. But one said some of the city's new policies could hurt school graduation rates in the short run by making it more difficult for students to make up credits for courses they failed.
New York

City officials say college readiness rate should double by 2016

Students from the Urban Youth Collaborative present suggestions to boost college readiness before a City Council hearing on the subject. By 2016, the proportion of students who graduate from city high schools ready for college-level work will double, Department of Education officials told skeptical City Council members today. The ambitious projection, made during a hearing on college and career readiness, would require growth that far outstrips even the most liberal assessments of the Department of Education's recent record of improvement. But even then most students would not be considered "college-ready." In 2010, when the city touted a 61 percent four-year graduation rate, just 21 percent of students who had entered high school in four years earlier met the state's college-readiness requirements. A disjuncture has long been visible between what city high schools require for graduation and what the City University of New York expects from new students. Three quarters of the students enrolling in CUNY's two-year colleges must take remedial math or reading classes, and that number has risen along with college attendance rates in recent years, especially as CUNY has toughened its standards. Testifying before members of the council's committees on education and higher education, UFT President Michael Mulgrew accused the city of practicing "social graduation" by giving high school diplomas to students who must repeat high school-level work before starting college classes. But until recently, high school graduation, not college readiness, was considered the gold standard for success testified Shael Polakow-Suransky, the DOE's chief academic officer. He said school officials had been adjusting their priorities to meet rising expectations and were confident that initiatives already underway would substantially change the picture. In particular, he said, new curriculum standards known as the Common Core that are being rolled out this year would push students to develop critical thinking skills required for college-level work.