NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED528865
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 19
Sustained Positive Effects on Graduation Rates Produced by New York City's Small Public High Schools of Choice. Policy Brief
Bloom, Howard S.; Unterman, Rebecca
During the past decade, New York City undertook a district-wide high school reform that is perhaps unprecedented in its scope, scale, and pace. Between fall 2002 and fall 2008, the school district closed 23 large failing high schools (with graduation rates below 45 percent), opened 216 new small high schools (with different missions, structures, and student selection criteria), and implemented a centralized high school admissions process that assigns over 90 percent of the roughly 80,000 incoming ninth-graders each year based on their school preferences. At the heart of this reform are 123 small, academically nonselective, public high schools. Each with approximately 100 students per grade in grades 9 through 12, these schools were created to serve some of the district's most disadvantaged students and are located mainly in neighborhoods where large failing high schools had been closed. Hence, they provide a realistic choice for students with widely varying academic backgrounds. MDRC researchers call them "small schools of choice" (SSCs) because of their small size and the fact that they do not screen students based on their academic backgrounds. In June 2010, MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, released a report on the effectiveness of 105 of the 123 new SSCs, which demonstrated that they are markedly improving academic progress and substantially improving graduation prospects, particularly for disadvantaged students. This report included data for over 21,000 students from four cohorts who entered ninth grade between fall 2005 and fall 2008. This policy brief extends the analysis by a year, which adds information on high school graduation rates for the 2006 cohort and provides a fifth year of follow-up for the 2005 cohort. This information makes it possible to address the following three questions: (1) Was the positive average effect of SSCs on four-year graduation rates for the study's first student cohort sustained through the second cohort?; (2) Was this positive average effect sustained across subgroups of students with different prior academic proficiency, family income, race/ethnicity, and gender?; and (3) Was the average four-year graduation effect sustained after five years? The answer to all three of these questions is "yes". In summary, the present findings provide highly credible evidence that in a relatively short period of time, with sufficient organization and resources, an existing school district can implement a complex high school reform that markedly improves graduation rates for a large population of low-income, disadvantaged students of color. (Contains 3 tables and 26 endnotes.)
MDRC. 16 East 34th Street 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: MDRC
Identifiers - Location: New York