In October 2002, about nine months after Bloomberg took office, he and schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled “Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education.” Children First sought to increase the four-year high school graduation rates–which hovered around 50 percent–and preparedness for college. Because children from advantaged households already graduated at high rates, the only way to increase the number of graduates was to improve results for children who were at risk of never graduating. The only way to do that was to improve schools–high schools so students would be encouraged to take necessary courses and persevere to graduation, and elementary and middle schools so that students would enter high school ready to succeed. Children First also worked to rescue high school-age students who had already dropped out or fallen drastically behind. It did this by creating career and technical education schools that linked students to jobs, and “multiple pathways to graduation” that offered flexible schedules and concentrated learning opportunities so students could graduate.
Here’s an assessment of the results.
Graduation rates are up. When Bloomberg became mayor, less than half the students in New York City’s high schools graduated in four years. Today, nearly two-thirds graduate on time. Every year, 18,000 more young people graduate high school than would have been expected in 2002. The percentage of graduates who enter college without needing to take remedial courses has doubled since 2001.
From 2005 to 2012, the graduation rate for Asian students rose from 66.3 percent to 82.1 percent, for black students from 40.1 percent to 59.8 percent; for Hispanic students from 37.4 percent to 57.5 percent; and for white students from 64.0 percent to 78.1 percent.
The percentage of city students dropping out after entering high school fell from 22 percent in 2005 to 11.4 percent in 2012. The percentage receiving an Advanced Regents Diploma increased from 12.5 percent in 2005 to 16.6 percent in 2012.