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About the Dropout Crisis - What's Happening in New York?

“While the increased graduation rates are encouraging, nearly one in four students is not graduating after four years,” New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. said.  “It is imperative that we continue to support districts as they fully implement the higher expectations the Board of Regents has set for students and educators.

Graduation rates reported statewide and for Big 5 Districts have generally increased, particularly in New York City, for the 2010 cohort.  Graduation rates in the Big 5 for the 2010 cohort are as follows:

  • New York City: 64.2 percent (61.3 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Buffalo: 52.8 percent (53.4 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Rochester: 43.4 percent (43.0 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Syracuse: 51.1 percent (48.8 percent for the 2009 cohort)
  • Yonkers: 68.8 percent  (66.4 percent for the 2009 cohort)

Low and High Need Districts

Graduation rates for high need urban-suburban and rural districts have increased over the past five years.  However, the performance gap between high need and low need districts remains nearly unchanged at nearly 30 percentage points. 

  • More than 94 percent of students from low need districts graduate with a high school diploma as compared to only 66 percent of students from high need urban-suburban districts. 
  • The achievement gap between Black or Hispanic and White students is approximately 25 percentage points for the graduation rate and approximately 30 percentage points for the Advanced Designation diploma. 

ELL StudentsNYSED logo

Students once identified as English Language Learners (ELL) who were previously served by bilingual and English as a Second Language programs continue to show progress.  For the 2010 cohort, such students graduated at a rate of 73 percent, compared to the 2009 cohort which graduated at a rate of 71 percent.  Current ELLs graduated at a rate of 31 percent.  The Board of Regents continues to take steps to improve district delivery of ELL services and instruction, including, for the first time in 30 years, an update to Part 154 regulation that govern services for ELLs; release of instructional supports for ELLs; a memorandum of understanding with the New York City Department of Education to improve services for NYC ELLs; and a new graduation safety net appeal process for certain ELL students who enter the U.S. during ninth grade or above.

(Source: New York State Education Department, December 18, 2014)

To learn more about graduation rates in New York State, visit

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