A new report released by the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) showed how school retention rates for students generally increased in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Student retention is determined by how many students return to school in the following year, as well as how many new students enroll. While the overall decline in enrollment during the peak of the pandemic was reported nationally, IBO found in the report released March. 1, that enrollment and retention rates weren’t quite as dramatic as reported.
“Basically there were reports and news articles about the fact that there were students who were leaving the public school system and we wanted to look at our numbers to see whether or not that really was happening,” said Sarita Subramanian, the Assistant Director of Education at IBO in an interview with amNew York Metro on Wednesday. “So when we looked initially, as the report showed, we looked at the share of students who attended school in the 2019-2020 year and then returned in what we call the COVID-19 school year, 2020-2021 and we actually found that there was a slight increase in the retention rate overall.”
In the report the IBO examined the citywide retention rate during the pandemic, using a number of methodologies to determine the retention rates of children pre-k to 11th grade (excluding data from the 12th grade as it is expected these students will graduate or otherwise leave the school system).
“The overall retention rate for traditional (non-charter) public schools remained relatively unchanged during the COVID pandemic: increasing ever so slightly from 92.4 percent in the pre-COVID year to 92.6 percent retained from the 2019-2020 to the 2020-2021 school year,” the report stated. “This rather steady rate, however, masks considerable variation by grade. The drop was sharpest for students moving from pre-K to kindergarten—the pre-COVID retention rate was 82.0 percent compared with 78 .3 percent for the students retained in the 2020-2021 school year. Kindergarten through second grade also experienced declines. Conversely, there was an increase in student retention for high school grades. The number of 10th graders that returned for that year, for example, increased from 92.2 percent in the pre-COVID school year to 95.0 percent.”
IBO also examined retention rates by using various student demographics including family income, race, housing stability and other factors.
“Among traditional public school students, we found that Black and Hispanic students, low-income students, and students in temporary housing experienced increased retention rates, particularly in high school grades,” the report continued. “There were decreases in the retention rate for pre-K students across all demographics in traditional public schools, with the largest declines for white students, higher-income students, students without disabilities, and non-ELL (English Language Learners) students.”
“I think [the report] is important as an indication of how many students are progressing in the school system,” said Subramanian. “It is one important piece of the enrollment story; students who return the next year and students who are newly enrolled.”
You can access the full report and view proposed IBO budgeting options online for more information regarding NYC student retention.
Last updated 9:54 am 3/3/2022