© 2022 WRVO Public Media
Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Raising graduation rates will benefit NY economy


New York State has similar rates of student disengagement as the rest of the nation.

With dropout rates at almost 30 per cent in New York, the Alliance for Excellent Education warns that this crisis is damaging to the economy as well as the future of individuals.

“This is our future workforce, it’s our future economic security, and if they’re not able to perform at the highest levels then we’re going to have a great problem.”

President of the Alliance Bob Wise says.

Of the 868 high schools in New York, 133 of them are considered among the lowest performing in the nation.

In the year 2010, some 72,900 students in the state of New York failed to graduate with their peers.

However, a report by the Alliance says if just half of these dropouts had graduated the state would have seen almost $450 million in increased earnings in an average year.

The City of Rochester alone would see an increase of $19 million dollars in earnings and $3.1 million in tax revenue if the dropout rate for the class of 2010 had been halved, says the report.

Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning in the Rochester City School District (RCSD), Beverly Burrell-Moore, said the dropout rate is alarming but the state is banding together in tackling the issue.

“We’re not alone in this and we’re consistently tapping each other’s strengths and knowledge bases.”

The RCSD has several programs in place already focusing on retaining students. Some schools are lengthening school hours and others are working with community partners to engage students.

Burrell-Moore said they are also putting a focus on the younger years in order to make sure children have the tools and mindset to succeed in school.

There are also programs targeting ‘at-risk’ students those who are more likely to drop out.

Wise said children from low-income families are more at risk, as are students of color and those who speak English as a second language.

A recent report by the Schot Foundation shows that New York State ranks last in the nation for graduation rates among black males, and Rochester has the lowest rate in New York at just nine per cent.

Burrell-Moore said Rochester, and the state of New York, must get graduation rates up in all areas.

“We have no other choice but to get better”

Support for Innovation Trail's American Graduate initiative comes from Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.

This story is part of the Innovation Trail's partnership with FRONTLINE's Dropout Nation. You can read the other reports here.

The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between six upstate New York public media outlets. The initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of the upstate New York economy.