High expectations for students must be paired with high-quality teachers, engaged caregivers, and a system that’s on everyone’s side.

Thriving Kids

Thriving Kids — Every Child Successful

Academic achievement builds. A productive, self-sustaining adult life begins with graduation from high school. But too many focus on graduation numbers alone, neglecting the significance of the years leading up to this milestone.

Research shows that students who are reading at grade level by third grade have a much better chance of successfully finishing high school. Early numeracy (math skill) is as essential as literacy, and students with a strong foundation in math also have more college and career opportunities related to valuable science, technology, engineering, and math pathways—the STEM fields.

Across the board, our children have far to go.

Our goals throughout the K-12 academic journey:

Every child, reading by third grade

In 2014, just five percent of Rochester’s children passed the state’s new, tougher reading test, compared to 32 percent in Monroe County and students in charter schools, who are at the same rate as the county average. Test scores in RCSD schools were lower than the aggregate among African-American and Hispanic children in 2013—two and three percentage points below, respectively.

Every child, succeeding in math in fourth grade

Rochester’s fourth graders’ scores improved in 2014 to 12 percent from six in 2013. But that still compares poorly to 43 percent in Monroe County and 48 percent among Rochester students in charter schools.

Improving middle school achievement

Far too many Rochester eighth graders are failing. Just six percent passed the state’s English exam, compared to 36 percent in Monroe County and 12 percent among Rochester charter school students. About eight percent of RCSD students in eighth grade passed either the eighth grade math test or the Regents Algebra I test. This compares to 17 percent passing the eighth grade math test in all of Monroe County and 16 percent passing eighth grade math among Rochester students in charter schools. (Data from 2014)

Increasing high school graduation rates

Overall, just under half of Rochester’s students successfully complete high school in four years: 48 percent among African-American students, 47 percent among Hispanic and Asian students, and 59 percent among white students. For Monroe County as a whole, 80 percent graduated on time. (Data for Class of 2013)

Ending racial disparities that prevent children’s success

In 2014, the Civil Rights Project of UCLA reported that New York State had the most extreme segregated public schools in the nation. From 1989 to 2012, the number of Rochester area schools with more than 90 percent minority students has more than quintupled from 2.7 to 14.6 percent. In Rochester-area city and suburbs combined, about 39 percent of students are poor. But in schools with more than 90 percent minorities, 86 percent of all students are poor, according to the data. About three in 10 of a typical white student’s classmates are poor, compared to six and seven in 10 for Hispanics and African Americans, respectively.

This socio-economic segregation has terrible consequences for children’s educational success. According to studies [PDF], students in schools with more than 40 to 50 percent students in poverty are far less likely to succeed academically. In speaking about a 2014 U.S. Department of Education comprehensive report on the civil rights data from public schools, Attorney General Eric Holder said “This critical report shows that racial disparities in school discipline policies are not only well-documented among older students but actually begin during preschool. Every data point represents a life impacted and a future potentially diverted or derailed.”

How we will get there:

In order to promote student success, educators, families, service providers, and the community must focus on each student gaining the necessary skills and knowledge at each transition point to be successful at the next level. We need to de-concentrate the current levels of poverty in our city schools — over the long-term, by lifting families out of poverty, and in the short-term, by aligning resources to improve educational outcomes.  Our education partners—from early childhood through college—are committed to establishing high standards for all students and providing a rigorous curriculum that challenges and prepares them with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century.

Only when our young people have equal opportunities can we work to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and the stress it creates for our community as a whole.