NY Charter School Graduation Rate Rises

The New York State Department of Education released data recently that proves charter schools are more successful when it comes to graduating their students than district schools are. What this release shows specifically is that charter high schools are outperforming their host districts when it comes to graduating students, even with the children that are “hardest to reach.” More on that below.

The statewide graduation rate inched up in 2015 and the charter school graduation rate increased right along with it. The charter school 4-year cohort graduation rate increased by 1.4 percentage points to 65.2%. This was less than the statewide graduation rate of 78.1% but higher than the graduation rate of 64.4% in charter host districts.

While the charter school graduation rate was only slightly higher than that of their host districts, the more impressive data point is the percent of students who did not graduate but are still enrolled and working towards their diploma (Percent Still Enrolled). 

The Percent Still Enrolled for charter schools was 28%, five percentage points higher than the host districts at 23% and 14 points higher than the statewide rate of 14%. 

This shows that when students are unable to graduate in four years, charter schools are encouraging these students to persevere. Many charters go above and beyond to graduate students who are harder to reach – and the numbers show those students often fall through the cracks in district schools.

When you total the graduation rate and the Percent Still Enrolled, charter schools are at 93.4%, which is higher than both host districts (87.7%) and the state (91.7%). Additionally, charter schools have a lower dropout rate than both host districts and the state (5.1% vs. 10.6% and 6.6% respectively). 

In all but one at-risk subgroup, charter schools achieved higher graduation rates than their host districts. This includes students who are economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, Black or African American students, and Hispanic or Latino students. English language learners in charters have a slightly lower graduation rate than charter host districts.

Districts with strong charter school comparison data include Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo. In these cities, all charter high schools surpassed their respective districts’ graduation rate.

A number of individual charter schools had a standout graduation rate in 2015 of 90% or higher, including: Harlem Village Academy Charter School, University Prep Charter High School, Charter School for Applied Technologies, Western NY Maritime Charter School, Achievement First Bushwick Charter School, Global Concepts Charter School, International Leadership Charter School, University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School, KIPP AMP Charter School, KIPP Academy Charter School, and Tapestry Charter School.

Just as charter middle schools have outperformed their host districts on the state’s ELA and Math exams for years, these numbers show that charter high schools are continuing crucial work that goes into making sure kids graduate and are prepared for life beyond the classroom. Charters are doing this work in communities that desperately need more quality options, and they are showing that all children can succeed.

Wendy Nelson Diamante
Wendy is the Director of Data and Research at the Northeast Charter Schools Network. As part of the policy team, Wendy manages NECSN’s data systems and research initiatives.
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NY Charter School Graduation Rate Rises
NY Charter School Graduation Rate Rises
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