June 17, 2014
Turning the Tide of NYC’s Educational Outcomes
A recent column in the New York Times by Dr. Robert Balfanz of Johns Hopkins University sheds light on the troubling disparities that exist in our country’s education system. The article discusses national data that is strikingly similar to what we see here in New York City – while there have been improvements in graduation rates in recent years, we continue to see disproportionately high dropout rates in African American and Latino communities.
The article suggests that to turn the tide for our city’s young people, we must not only reach out to struggling students in our high schools, but in the younger grades as well. According to Dr. Balfanz’s research, most students who eventually drop out can be identified as early as sixth grade based on their attendance, behavior and course performance.
“These young men,” he says, “are waving their hands early and often to say they need help, but our educational and student support systems aren’t organized to recognize and respond to their distress signals.”
A look at the data in CCC’s Keeping Track Online makes very clear our responsibility to do better by our children well before they reach high school, particularly in communities of color. The charts above show the percentages of public elementary and middle school children who met the new common core standards in reading and math in the last school year by race and ethnicity – and the disparities are evident.
So what can be done? Like Dr. Balfanz, we believe that with the right interventions and supports, at the right period in a young person’s life, we can make important changes in their educational and life-long outcomes.
Through a series of conversations with school administrators, including a policy briefing and an analytic project that led to the publishing of our 2014 report, Keeping Middle School Students on Track for Success, CCC explored this very issue.
Here’s what we learned:
Our research shows that NYC has a number of promising initiatives underway – just a few of which are mentioned above – to respond to the educational needs of our city’s young people. We look forward to partnering with the Administration to expand on these opportunities so that we can ensure that the children who need these supports the most can benefit from them.