New York City Says It Will Focus on College Readiness

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, January 20, 2012

The latest statistic bedeviling New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s efforts to show progress in the city’s public schools during his tenure is a startling, but well-known one: one out of every four students who entered high school in 2007, and graduated four years later, was not ready for college-level work.

Concern about the validity of the city’s increasing graduation rate, which the mayor often points to as one of his greatest accomplishments, grew last year after state education officials revealed that most students were graduating unprepared for college.

City officials followed with their own data, which was just as grim: 75 percent of graduates had Regents and SAT scores low enough to suggest they would need to take remedial classes in college.

On Thursday, the City Council seemed to awaken to these figures. In a joint hearing of the higher education and K-12 education committees, council members asked Department of Education officials how it was possible to assign meaning to an increasing graduation rate if a majority of students remain unprepared for college.

Although the hearing was billed as a time to put difficult questions to city officials, it lost much of its steam after Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, canceled her plans to speak. Dr. Tisch initially forced the city to confront the college readiness numbers, calling them “useful truths” that would push the city to improve.