Lies, damned lies and statistics

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Oceanside is on the high side, although not the highest in the county. That honors goes to Jericho, which graduates 98.3 percent of its students, with 86.8 percent meeting the state standard.

On the other side of the ledger is Hempstead, a high need district by any criteria you care to use to measure that kind of thing.

Hempstead graduates 37.5 percent of its students, with only 4 percent meeting the state’s readiness standard.

You can see that the 74 percent graduation rate is meaningless in much of the state’s school districts.

Other local districts fall somewhere in between Jericho and Hempstead.

Malverne graduates 81 percent of its seniors, but only 24.1 percent meet the state readiness standard.

West Hempstead graduates 83.4 percent of its seniors. The state says that 32.8 percent of those students meet its readiness standard.

Countywide, 89.1 percent of seniors graduate, but only 53.8 are ready for college or career by state standards.

It makes a person wonder why so few of the graduates are actually ready to go out into the world. Are the school district graduating students who are not ready to graduate, or is the state standard unrealistic?

That is a question that nobody seems ready to answer, not the school district and not the state.

The other question that has been addressed over the last decade is how to close the gap between minority and white students and between high need and low need districts.

Billy Easton is the executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education, a state group that sued the state more than a decade ago over the disparity in school aid.

“The gulf in graduation rates between wealthy and needy school districts is a gaping wound and current state policies are failing to address the problem,” Easton said in a recent statement. “The gap in graduation and college readiness rates matches a dramatic gap in school spending where students in the wealthiest districts have much richer educational opportunities. In recent years, the state has turned its back on closing the educational opportunity gap and for the past five years in a row, the budgets passed by the governor and the legislature have resulted in more and more classroom cuts.”

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