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Jonathan Burman, Tom Dunn, Alan Ray at (518) 474-1201







Statewide school reports cards released today show that:











“The school report cards show real progress in elementary and middle school and some progress in high school,” State Education Commissioner Richard Mills said.  “But the graduation rate for the Class of 2005 was far too low.  The students now in school seem to be doing better, but there is no time to waste.  The Regents are considering new reforms to improve high school graduation rates.”


“The Board of Regents is talking to students, parents, teachers and administrators across the State to develop new policies aimed at increasing this unacceptable graduation rate,” Regent’s Chancellor Robert M. Bennett said.  “Working with schools statewide, during the next several months we will take a series of aggressive actions to solve these problems.”


            Among the high school reforms the Regents are considering:


       Setting graduation targets, measuring results, and raising the targets each year.


       Setting attendance targets, measuring results and raising the targets each year.


     Holding schools accountable for meeting the new targets. Accelerating SURR requirements.


       Reforming teaching by requiring, at a date certain, all teachers to teach only in their certified area.


       Monitoring safety plans and violent incident data and requiring reforms.


            Performance in elementary and middle school has improved significantly in various ways. For example, in New York City, the percentage scoring at Level 1 on the 8th grade Math test was cut in half by 2005 – from 44 percent in 2001 to 20 percent in 2005. The percentage meeting all the standards almost doubled, from 22 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2005.


            Fourth graders have also improved significantly over time. In 2000, only 42 percent of 4th graders in New York City met all the standards in English. By 2005, 60 percent did. The percentage of New York City’s 4th graders with serious academic problems declined from 19 percent in 2000 to 8 percent in 2005. Most high need school districts have made similar or, in some cases, more improvement.


            For the state as a whole, the students included in the 2000 and 2001 cohorts (the classes of 2004-2005) are all students reported by school districts who started 9th grade in 2000 and 2001 and had graduated, were still enrolled, had dropped out, or had transferred to a GED program as of June 30, 2005.


The State Education Department is moving toward a student record system in which each student has an identifier that is unique statewide. This move is partially completed. As a result of this move toward a reporting system with individual student records, more students are being reported and included in the overall statewide 2001 cohort that is being included in the news conference today. The total number included in the cohort of students who began 9th grade in 2001 is 214,494, more than the number of students who took the 8th grade tests that year. Included are all students who entered 9th grade in 2000 and graduated, dropped out, moved to a GED program, or were still enrolled in June 2004.


The 2001 accountability cohort, which is in the School Report Cards announced today, has been included in the report cards for several years and again this year. Under the state accountability system for NCLB, schools are held accountable for students who were continuously enrolled for two years. This cohort consists of students who began 9th grade for the first time in 2001. Counting of these students began in October 2003, and dropouts are included except for those who dropped out during the first two years of high school. The cohort is used for school district accountability purposes. The general education students in this cohort were required to pass the Regents English, Math, Global History and Geography, U.S. History and Government, and Science Exams at a score of 55 or higher. However, special education students were not required to pass the Regents Exams. If special education students are seeking a local diploma, they are required to take the exams but can pass the RCTs to receive a local diploma. If they are seeking an IEP diploma, they do not have to take the Regents Exams.


The data slides used in the press conference are attached.