An audit released by the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli indicates that the New York City Department of Education (DOE) needs to improve efforts for preparing students for their next steps after high school.
The audit, released Oct. 4, primarily examined whether DOE students completed high school by their expected graduation date and if they possessed skills needed to succeed and complete higher education – such as college or a trade school.
“It is the DOE’s responsibility to ensure that New York’s children are provided with an educational foundation that helps them achieve their full potential and realize their dreams,” DiNapoli said in a statement released on Tuesday. “The DOE must make sure students are ready for their next steps after high school and should prioritize elementary and middle school intervention in city school districts where large numbers of students do not graduate high school.”
The audit found that a significant number of students did not complete high school on time and were additionally unprepared for success in higher education or to employment. The audit also identified some significant racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in college readiness.
Auditors looked at 71,210 students who were expected to graduate high school in 2019 and examined graduation rates, college enrollment and whether students stayed in college.
Of this group, 23% did not graduate by their expected high school graduation date.
Racial disparities were also identified with 50% of the students who did not graduate by their expected date were Hispanic, 30% were Black and all other ethnicities made up the remaining 20%.
Of the sampled students, 63% graduated and enrolled in college, but 38% of those students did not stay in college for at least six months.
The DOE considers its students ready and prepared for college if they graduate from high school, are able to make an informed decision about their immediate next steps, can enter higher education without remedial instruction and can persist on a path that leads to a degree, credential or job that pays wages that can support a family.
Auditors found nearly half of the 291 students were not college ready by the DOE’s standards because they either didn’t graduate high school on time or were not academically proficient based on their scores on standardized tests.
Following DiNapoli’s audit, his office made several recommendations to the DOE to improve their student’s preparedness which included assessing and supporting school districts with high percentages of students not graduating high school or making it through college, examining why students were assessed as not college ready and use the information to assist students and schools in improving proficiency levels and analyzing annual state assessment test results as early on to identify students who may need additional help becoming college ready.
Following the release of the audit, the NYC DOE issued a statement emphasizing their commitment to the education of the city’s children.
“This administration is deeply committed to continuing to strengthen the path from high school to college and good paying careers,” said Nicole Brownstein, a DOE spokesperson on Tuesday. “We have been vocal on this issue, and we are working to put in place programs that include school funding and staff training to support college and career advising, advanced coursework, including AP courses, expanded and equitable early college credit programs, and bridge-to-college programming in the months following graduation.”