Metro Center Releases Findings on Black and Latino Drop-out Crisis in NYC

Despite perhaps having the best urban education system in the country, New York City suffers from a drop-out crisis among Black and Latino youth, according to a new report from researchers at the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education.

Convening a large audience of educators, policy makers, and education activists for a public presentation of its findings last month, the Metro Center revealed startling statistics about drop-out rates among Black and Latino adolescents in New York City. Only roughly 44 percent of Black and Latino students in the city graduate after six years. Nearly one in five Latino males of the 2006-2007 graduating cohort of public school students dropped out, while approximately one in seven Black students dropped out.

Pedro Noguera, executive director of the Metro Center and Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at NYU Steinhardt, led the presentation on the Center’s findings, and remarked that “despite progress, including a greater number of high performing, high poverty schools than anywhere else, certain groups in New York City are not getting by.” He noted that African American students who drop out are likely to see significant negative life outcomes, such as incarceration and unemployment.

The study, which was supported by the Donor’s Education Collaborative and was prepared by the Black and Latino Advocacy Coalition, seeks to shed light on the factors that contribute to the disproportionate number of African American and Latino students who drop out. The group hopes its finds will influence policy regarding school retention for these at-risk groups.

Among the group’s findings are some of the common characteristics of those students who drop out. Black and Latino drop-outs tend to be overage compared to their peer groups, tend to repeat one or more grade levels, and do not accumulate sufficient credits early in their high school career.

The report finds that ninth grade is a critical point of intervention for Black and Latino males at risk for dropping out. The authors suggest a number of policy and practice recommendations for educators and policy makers, including establishing an early warning system for students at risk, intensive intervention services, and identifying effective strategies to help those students who are already behind in credit accumulation.

Responding to the Center’s finds was a panel of education practitioners and experts, including the Honorable Merryl H. Tisch, chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Santiago Taveras, deputy chancellor, NYC Dept. of Education; David Banks; founder, Eagle Academy for Young Men; Juan Mendez, principal, Enterprise, Business, and Technology High School; and Roger Blissett, managing director, US Strategy RBC Capital Markets.

Read the full Metro Center report on the drop-out crisis.

Pictured left to right: Taveras, Mendez, Mary Brabeck, dean of NYU Steinhardt, Tisch, Banks, Blissett, Noguera.

This post appears in the following categories: research.
  • Jason Blonstein

    How can we make sure that we are doing more of what we know works? Dr. Noguera’s poignant question brings to mind that there is a body of knowledge that can be applied to school improvements and concomitantly, student achievement. That body of knowledge may be summarized in two words, repair and prevent. You may recoil at the mention of “repair” as it conjures up notions of remediation and deficit models of how teaching and learning may be done. Repair in this case means the reattachment of alienated individuals, their families and their communities, to the great ideas and inquiries of our civilization. Repair captures the notions of literacy, social and emotional counseling and support, and supporting technologies that facilitate the repair of the rift between those who feel part of the effort to improve themselves and their society, and those who have no hope, no vision of a better life in which schooling plays a vital role. Schools offer a unique opportunity for society to show its care for its children, that they believe in them all as part of their hopes for the future. “Preventing” simply means that students learn how to self assess, to make judgments that are based on evidence, that know how to check their work, to revise and improve it. This means that we are preventing poor thinking, learning to recognize and correct it as we learn in any discipline. As students learn how to think well, to acquire the habits of serious inquiry, and learn to understand themselves and their peers, we are preventing the loss of time and energy in social unrest, and using that time to inquire more rigorously and efficiently into the questions raised in the course of schooling.
    Repairing and preventing happen in schools: in the classrooms, before school and after school, in the halls, gyms, auditoriums and schoolyards. It is the school, not the classroom, that is the functional unit of change that we must address. Every student, parent, and community member involved in the school is part of that unit, potentially making the social and academic bonds among all the members stronger over time. Since my school years in 3 high schools, i have heard the question asked: how do we efficiently and effectively assess how schools progress in their efforts to help all their students (essentially the same question as Dr. Noguera’s)? We now have useful lists of indicators, present in school quality reviews such as PASS reviews, and research will uncover more and better indicators of progress. Schools, however, must be partners in efforts to improve, school leaders must be coopted, and must coopt their school communities, into the the efforts to achieve common goals they set with external mentors, supporters, and oversight.
    Finally, schools need to learn how to create curricula that include products, outcomes, that their whole school community appreciates, values, and supports, in which the ethic of ongoing assessment and revision keep the curricula alive. Whether it is a robotics exhibition, a dance recital, a school wide annotated timeline, a poetry slam, the products and outcomes of inquiry should allow the necessary facets of repair and prevention to manifest themselves in student knowledge, skills, and dispositions.