NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

NYC Public Schools Underperform, Trap Minorities

October 30, 2000

In its second annual report card on the state of New York City public schools, the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation found that the schools have made some improvement, but the majority of students and especially minorities are failing to learn.

Although high school completion rates are up, the long term trends show that less 16 percent of N.Y.C. public school students will be able to attain the higher requirements for a diploma which take effect in 2004.

  • Currently only 46 percent receive a diploma in the standard four years, and only 58 percent receive it after seven years.
  • Completion rates for whites and Hispanics are similar to national levels; but there is a significant gap for black achievement, with 84 percent of blacks nationwide completing their diploma within seven years compared to only 66 percent of N.Y.C. students.

New York City students are less likely to take college entrance exams and thus are less likely than their other New York state counterparts to attend college. Seventy-three percent of New York state students took the SAT compared to only 35 percent of the New York City students. Even then, of those taking the test, the non-N.Y.C. students scored between 40 and 50 points higher than the N.Y.C. students on each section of the SAT.

Both city- and state-administered tests show that about 60 percent of elementary and middle school students are not reading at an acceptable level, and 70 percent are not at a proficient level in math. Elementary school numbers are particularly distressing. Of the 677 public elementary schools in N.Y.C.:

  • Less than 29 percent have at least 30 percent of their students reading at an acceptable level.
  • Less than 50 percent have at least 40 percent at that level.
  • Less than 10 percent have more than 70 percent of their students reading at that level.

In New York, there are currently 105 schools on the state's list of chronically failing schools. All but eight of those schools are in N.Y.C.

Source: Joseph P. Viteritti and Kevin Kosar, "State of the New York City Public Schools 2000," Civic Report No. 13, September 2000, Manhattan Institute, 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, Second Floor, New York, New York, 10017, (212) 599-7000.


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