A new data study shows that third graders who can’t read proficiently are unlikely to graduate from high school in New York City. Only 2.7% of students who failed to meet a basic third grade English Language Arts (ELA) standard went on to meet or exceed the benchmark in eighth grade. Only one in three of these students ultimately graduated from high school. That’s a stark statistic to prove that early childhood education matters. I wonder if there’s anything a high school teacher can do to make up for huge deficits in the early years.
The Columbia University study, The Experiences of One New York City High School Cohort: Opportunities, Successes, and Challenges, analyzed elementary and middle school records for all 77,501 high school students who entered ninth grade in 2005 and hoped to graduate in 2009. The researchers were looking for things that happen before students even enter high school that might determine long-term academic success, including college performance. While overall high school graduation rates in New York City are improving (up by about 15 percentage points over the past decade to 65%) , some demographic groups, from special needs to Black and Hispanic students, lag considerably behind the average. The data report did not offer clear answers on what should be done.
I plan to take some more time later this week to study the results and the tables and write more. Full disclosure: two of the study’s authors were my instructors in a Columbia Teachers College data analysis course I took back in 2010-11, Professor Doug Ready and Miya Warner, who was the class teaching assistant.
The study’s release coincided with the formation of a new Education Funders Research Initiative a project of Philanthropy New York to study the results of education reform strategies over the last decade. The new data-driven initiative is funded by a large group of non-profits including the Ford Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Chartiable Trust.