Meaningful Graduation Standards

New York State must take steps that can ensure that all students are held to high expectations and participate in a wide range of learning opportunities — including gatekeeper and advanced courses — that help them demonstrate that they are prepared when they graduate.

Meaningful Graduation Standards

New York State must take steps that can ensure that all students are held to high expectations and participate in a wide range of learning opportunities — including gatekeeper and advanced courses — that help them demonstrate that they are prepared when they graduate.

What’s behind the state’s improved graduation rates?

Regents exam exemptions and regulatory changes may be the cause of inflated graduation rates

Throughout the pandemic, the administration of high school Regents exams has been interrupted and additional regulatory changes have made it easier for students to graduate. And while the need for additional flexibility during this time is understandable, these changes could exacerbate longstanding inequities in postsecondary preparedness.

Our latest brief explores graduation rates from 2018-2021 and the use of Regents exemptions, deep dives into an analysis of the class of 2021’s graduation rates, and outlines a historical pattern of regulatory changes that began even before the pandemic.

Graduation Rates by Region (2021)

Our analysis unearthed a significant variance in graduation rates in New York State’s Big Five regions. Check out regional-specific data below.

The State of the Diploma

School districts across the state are disproportionately relying on Local diplomas and the Career Development & Occupational Studies (CDOS) pathway — which relies on a credential that was designed to show readiness for entry-level employment — for historically under-served groups of students, and especially for Black students.

Graduating Into Uncertainty

Across New York State, school districts serving the largest shares of students of color and students from low-income backgrounds were more likely to rely on exemptions from Regents exams to graduate students, highlighting the critical need for state and education leaders to take steps to ensure that high school seniors are supported in their postsecondary transition.