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College-Readiness Data Could Lower NYC High Schools' Grades

As the education field focuses so intently on college readiness, and states apply for waivers from No Child Left Behind, it's interesting to note a little something taking shape in New York City.

Gotham Schools, a scrappy local news site, has been reporting this week on the city's work to illuminate how well high schools are preparing students for college.

The city has been issuing school "report cards" since 2007, grading them on a variety of factors from students' academic progress to school climate. But, concerned about high rates of college remediation among its graduates, the city will soon begin considering factors such as the percentage of high schools' students that take challenging courses, pass Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or the state regents exams at college-ready levels, and enroll in college. (See the city's Power Point presentation about how the school grading system is changing.)

The new data were reported on schools' report cards this week, but won't actually be factored into their grades until next year, Gotham Schools reports. Even with a year's grace period, though, there is good reason to anticipate that some high schools could see their grades drop because of the college-readiness metrics.

Data released this week show that only one-quarter of the students graduating from high school are ready for college, according to Gotham Schools. (And if that isn't a big enough problem, take this one: The same data show that less than half the students who were in 9th grade in 2006 are now in college.)

Some high schools that get high grades on the current report cards aren't doing so well on some of the college-readiness metrics, according to city data.

The "ouch" that could be coming down the pike next year when New York City high schools get their grades could be echoed in many other places. We're talking about states that get waivers from key provisions of No Child Left Behind. You might recall that one of the conditions of getting a waiver is that states will have to agree to report their schools' college-going and college-credit-accumulation rates. And in many places, that will not look pretty.

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