Addressing The College-readiness crisis in NYC Public Schools

A study suggest that despite the perceived success of the small schools movement, our public education overlooks one key success factor: college-readiness. Although NYC boasts a record high of close to 70 percent graduation rate in public high schools last year, only 65 percent of Black and Latino/ Hispanic kids graduated on time. For students with disabilities, the number drops to less than 50 percent.

It seems initiatives taken to reduce dropout rates are failing many of our students; especially minorities and those with special needs. Breaking up schools for the sake of boosting graduation rates undermines a school’s ability to fund programs like multi-language instruction, accessibility for special needs, arts education, & sports that supplement classroom learning and nurture well-rounded students-the programs necessary to b

Recent studies are showing that the small schools movement is negatively affecting student’s preparedness for college. Less than half of NYC high school graduates are classified as ready to meet the academic demands of a 4-year college. In 2014, CUNY Chancellor James Milliken called the lack of college readiness as the system’s “biggest core issue.”

Principal David Fanning at A. Philip Randolph High School in West Harlem speaks of the challenges of running a school that aims to be accessible to all students while adhering to policies that focus on exclusively numbers. Breaking up schools dissolves budgets that can be set aside for special programs and prevent a large number of kids from developing a strong portfolio of elective and extra-curricular activities. This limits options for higher education to community college.

Community college does serve a purpose in society but, it largely falls short in providing the rich environment that fosters critical thinking skills for students who need it most. Often times, community college does not provide for opportunities these at-risk groups need to further their education. A NY Times article cited that “nationally, only 25 percent of first-time students entering public community colleges graduate”, based on a study from the National center of Education Statistics. Without a more holistic approach to education that allows students to critically think and question, they suffer from lack of college-readiness. This dramatically limits options for their future.

An Indiana University study found that “students from modest backgrounds were encouraged by their parents to be more deferential to authority-and try to figure things out for themselves, instead of asking for help.” The result is students failing to develop self-advocacy skills that are critical to their succeeding. When students of low socioeconomic status are reluctant to participate or ask for help in a school setting, there's a direct impact on a student's curiosity to learn as well as their willingness to seek help pursuing college admission. Most students are missing out on the opportunity to exercise what has been identified as some of the more crucial skills to development in today’s economy: Critical thinking & questioning.