Quality educational opportunities are critical to helping our children develop to their maximum potential and to our community’s ability to compete in the global economy.
In this section, we summarize trends in the performance of our area’s educational system, including: 1) prekindergarten enrollment; 2) percentage of preschoolers receiving special education services; 3) per-student spending; 4) passing rates on fourth-grade English and math exams; 5) passing rates among low-income and minority students; 6) high school graduation rates; 7) post-graduation plans of high school graduates; and 8) education levels among adults.
In all cases, comparisons to state statistics reflect the state excluding New York City.
The percentage of preschoolers receiving special education services has increased and has consistently been above state levels since 2001. The percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten has increased by 4 points between 2001 and 2014. Average per-student spending was lower than the statewide average.
The county’s passing rates on fourth-grade English were above the state and math exams were slightly below those of the state. Passing rates were lower among low-income and minority students. High school graduation rates have increased to 82%, slightly lower than the region and state. Dutchess had the highest rate of high school graduates saying they planned to attend 2- or 4-year colleges in the region and was above the state. The county also had the highest rate of adults with at least a bachelor’s degree in the region and was on par with the state.
The percentage of preschoolers receiving special education services has been increasing since 2000.
In 2014, 8.0% of 3- to 5-year-olds received special education services in Dutchess, higher than the state (5.9%) and the region (6.7%). The rate in Dutchess has increased 63% since 2000 and is higher than neighboring Orange (6.1%) and Ulster (6.5%).
Prekindergarten enrollment has been increasing since 2000, although remained the lowest in the region.
About 11% of Dutchess County's 4-year-olds were enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten programs in 2014, lower than Ulster (24%), Orange and the state (both 36%).
Per-student spending by school districts in Dutchess was the second lowest in the region.
School districts in Dutchess County spent $22,300 per student in 2015, $200 less than the state figure. Spending in Dutchess has consistently been the lowest among the counties in the region on average. Still, school spending has grown considerably since 2000, up 58% even after adjusting for inflation.
The passing rates on fourth-grade English and math exams in Dutchess County were below the state.
The county’s fourth-graders performed above the region on the state English exam, with 36% passing in 2016. Dutchess was below the state in math, 40% passed in the county compared to 46% in the state. Passing rates in the county have generally followed state trends. However, it should be noted that a substantial number of students did not take state exams in 2016 due to parent concerns about testing in schools. The large percentage of students not taking the exam may have a significant effect on overall achievement levels and should therefore give caution to interpreting these results. The opt out rate for the English exam in Dutchess was 32% and 36% for the math exam in 2016.
Passing rates among low-income and minority students were lower than for other students.
Passing rates on state tests were significantly lower for low-income, African American and Hispanic students than for their peers. While 21% of low-income fourth-graders passed the English and 22% passed the math exams in 2016, 47% and 52% of students who were not low-income passed the English and math tests. The disparities by race and ethnicity of students were similar; for example, 15% of African American and 29% of Hispanic fourth-graders passed the English exam, compared to 43% of white fourth-graders.
Since 2008, high school graduation rates have increased and dropout rates have decreased.
The county’s high school graduation rate was slightly below the state level, while the dropout rate was a bit higher. About 84% of the 2010 cohort graduated on time (by 2014), compared to 85% in the state. About 7% of the cohort dropped out, above the state rate of 6%.
An increasing proportion of high school graduates planned to attend 2-year colleges.
Dutchess had the highest share of students planning to attend college (86%) in the region. Similar to the regional trend, the share headed to 4-year colleges fell 3 percentage points between 2001 and 2014 to 44%, while the proportion planning on 2-year college rose 4 points to 42%. These trends were similar at the state level, although a bigger share was planning on 4-year college (49%) and a smaller share on 2-year college (34%).
Education levels among adults increased, with more having a college education.
The proportion of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher in Dutchess was the highest in the region (33%) and above the nation and the state. Overall education levels among adults in Dutchess have been rising, with 62% of adults in 2010-14 having attended at least some college, up from 56% in 2000.
The proportion of residents with a 4-year degree or higher in Dutchess County was 59% among Asians, 35% among whites, 22% among African American residents and 19% among Hispanics in 2010-14.