Graduating Ready for College: Racial Disparities

In continuation of our discussion of the new graduation and college readiness data from the New York State Department of Education, today we’d like to share an interactive map with you. If you’ve missed our previous posts, be sure to catch up on the conversation by reading our initial reflections and exploring two infographics that provide side-by-side comparison of districts’ rates.

Today’s interactive map depicts the 2012-2013 college readiness rates for Westchester County’s school districts (darker color means fewer students are ready for college). Click on any school district for a pop-up providing a racial/ethnic breakdown of graduation and college readiness rates for that district. Any blanks indicate that rates could not be calculated because less than five students were in that group.

To recap the definitions of these two rates:

  • Graduation rates: reflect the percentage of the student cohort that has earned a Local, Regents, or Regents with Advanced Designation diploma by August of the students’ fourth year.
  • College readiness rates: reflect the ELA/Math Aspirational Performance Measure*, which represents the percentage of the student cohort that graduated with a Local, Regents, or Regents with Advanced Designation diploma and earned a 75 or greater on their English Regents examination and earned a 80 or greater on a Math Regents examination.

Digging Deeper

So what jumps out to us from the data shown in this map? It’s not too surprising that both graduation and college readiness rates varied considerably between different racial/ethnic subgroups. However, what’s interesting is that this racial disparity generally seems to be even greater for college readiness rates than it is for graduation rates.

Even in school districts with relatively “healthy” overall rates, students of color are significantly less likely to be ready for college, even if they graduate (take a look at Scarsdale, Pelham, and Croton-Harmon, for example). This suggests that even in ostensibly “strong” school districts, and certainly in some of our districts with lower overall rates, we need to make sure that all students are being given the support they need to be ready for higher education.

*It’s worth noting that there are actually two indicators that NYSED uses to measure college readiness from an academic standpoint: the ELA/Math Aspirational Performance Measure (APM) and the Regents Advanced Diploma rate. We’ve chosen to use the APM, since we see evidence that several high performing school districts have made a programmatic decision not to participate in the Regents Advanced Diploma. As you can see in the table below, these school districts have Regents Advanced Diploma rates of 0%, yet their APM rates fall high on the Westchester County range at 68% or higher. For this reason, the APM is a more reliable way to compare college readiness between Westchester’s school districts.


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  1. Pingback: Understanding New York's College and Career Readiness Rate - Westchester Children's Association

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