Black and Latino students make gains in career and tech schools: report

Career and technical high schools in the city have higher graduation rates for all students.

Career and technical high schools in the city have higher graduation rates for all students, but especially for black and Latino males, who have historically lagged behind other students in graduation rates, according to a new report by the Community Service Society.

“Challenging Traditional Expectations: How New York City’s CTE High Schools Are Helping Students Graduate,” showed that black and latino males, who have a 52% graduation rate in regularhigh schools, have 63% and 66% graduation rates, respectively, in career and technical (CTE) schools. “We rarely see results that are this strong,” said Lazar Treschan, the study’s co-author and director of youth policy at the Community Service Society, 170-year-old public service organization dedicated to fighting economic disparity

While CTE high schools are seen by some people as trade schools that are inferior to standard high schools, the report proves that the stigma is a myth, Treschan said. “Relevance is the biggest factor: Kids want to understand why they’re in high school and how the work they’re doing is important to their future,” Treschan said. “Every kid, no matter what, did better in a CTE school, and when you look specifically at black and latino males, you see the biggest bump in graduation rates.”

CTE schools include core curricula but also offer electives that prep students for jobs in fields such as health, aviation, fashion, film, finance, technology and tourism.

But only 45, or about 8%, of the city’s high schools, qualify as fully dedicated CTE schools.

While the study did not measure employment upon graduation, Treschan said that many CTE schools have relationships with major employers, upping the odds of employment for graduates.

The CSS report “quantitatively confirms what we have known qualitatively for a long time,” said Devora Kaye, a spokeswoman for the NYC Board of Education. “By serving high numbers of black and latino students and boosting graduation rates among those who were previously less likely to attain a diploma, CTE schools are serving our families well,” Kaye said.

But the CSS report also revealed that four years after beginning a high school, only 18% of CTE students were college ready, as opposed to 23% of non-CTE high school students. “CTE schools are doing a much better job of getting kids over the first hurtle, which is graduation, but the second hurtle, which is just as important, is to get them ready for higher level learning,” as an increasing number of jobs require two or four year degrees, Treschan said.

Sheila Anne Feeney