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New York schools suffer high drop-out rate: Study

Nationwide, about one in three high school students drops out before graduating, according to the report released Tuesday by the America's Promise Alliance, a national nonprofit founded by Gen. Colin Powell to track children's access to resources such as education. The Cities in Crisis report showed that 1.2 million students drop out each year, according to 2004 data, the most recent year for which graduation data were available for all cities, America's Promise said."When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe. Our economic and national security are at risk when we fail to educate the leaders and the workforce of the future," Powell said in a statement. "It's time for a national 'call to arms,' because we cannot afford to let nearly one-third of our kids fail."The New York City public schools ranked 43rd nationally, with 45.29 percent of students graduating on time after four years in 2004, the study said. The five boroughs ranked ahead of cities such as Baltimore (34.7 percent), Cleveland (34.1 percent) and Detroit (in last place at 24.99 percent). But New York City students' graduation rates trailed those of other big urban areas such as Los Angeles (45 percent), Chicago (51 percent), Boston (57 percent) and Washington, D.C. (58.3 percent).The city Education Department said it has made great strides and will continue to do so."The graduation rates of large cities can't be meaningfully compared because graduation requirements, like reading and math tests in lower grades, vary so much from state to state," said DOE spokesman Andrew Jacob. "New York City's graduation rate has risen nine percentage points since Mayor Bloomberg won control of the schools in 2002 and six percentage points since 2004, the year this report focuses on. By contrast, the city's graduation rate rose just one-tenth of a percentage point in the entire decade before 2002."For the New York metropolitan area, the study looked at the five boroughs, Long Island, northern New Jersey and Westchester and Rockland counties. The region's graduation rate in 2004 was 47th out of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the country, with only 47.4 percent of urban students completing their education but 82.9 percent of suburban students doing so. Only Baltimore and Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio, fared worse in the study's calculations.The school districts with the best graduation rates were Mesa, Ariz., where 77 percent of students graduate, followed by San Jose, Calif.; Nashville, Tenn.; Colorado Springs and San Francisco.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodoulides@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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