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, surpassing the state percentage. A smaller percentage of 4-year-olds are in publicly funded prekindergarten programs than in the state. Average per-student spending is higher than the statewide average.
The region has lower passing rates on fourth-grade English and math exams than the state. Passing rates were even lower among low-income and minority students. High school graduation rates have increased to 83%, slightly below the state (84%). An increasing proportion of high school graduates plan to attend 2-year (rather than 4-year) colleges, and an increasing percentage of the region’s adult residents are college educated.
The percentage of preschoolers receiving special education services has been increasing since 2000.
From 2000 to 2014, the number of preschoolers receiving special education services increased 55% in the region and 16% in the state. In 2014, 6.7% of all 3- to 5-year-olds in the region and 5.9% in the state were receiving special education services. Dutchess had the highest rate at 8.0%, followed by Ulster at 6.5% and Orange at 6.1%.
Prekindergarten enrollment has been increasing since 2000, but remains below the rate for the state.
About 26% of the region's 4-year-olds were enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten programs in 2014, below the 36% rate for the state. Participation was highest in Orange County (36%) followed by Ulster (24%) and Dutchess (11%).
Per–student spending by school districts is slightly higher in the region than in the state.
In 2015, per-student spending by school districts in the region was approximately $22,600, which was more than the state at $22,500. Per-student spending in the region has increased 56% since 2000, even after adjusting for inflation. Spending in Ulster County was the highest in the region, about $24,400 per student, followed by Orange County school districts at $22,100 and Dutchess County at $22,300.
The region has lower passing rates on fourth–grade English and math exams than the state.
The 2016 passing rate of 35% in English was 4 points below the state, and in math, 40% of the region’s students passed, 6 points below the state. 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 was 32% for Dutchess and Orange, and 37% for Ulster. The opt out rate for the math exam was 36% for Dutchess, 35% for Orange, and 42% for Ulster.
Passing rates among low–income and minority students are 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 exams, and 25% passed math in 2016, 47% and 53% 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, 20% of African American and 25% of Hispanic fourth-graders passed the English exam, compared to 43% of white fourth-graders.
Both high school graduation and dropout rates are in line with statewide trends.
By 2014, 85% of the region’s 2010 cohort graduated on time, on par with the state. About 7% of the cohort dropped out, slightly above the state rate of 6%.
An increasing proportion of high school graduates plans to attend 2–year colleges.
Since 2001, the proportion planning on a 2-year college rose 5 points to 40%, while the share headed to 4-year colleges slipped by 3 points to 42%. Overall, 82% of 2014 graduates planned to go to college, up from 80% in 2001. This trend was somewhat mirrored at the state level, though a larger share of students were headed to 4-year colleges (49%).
Education levels among adults are rising, with more having a college education.
Education levels among adults in the region were on par with the state and slightly higher than national figures. In 2010-14, 60% of adults had attended at least some college, up from 53% in 2000. About 30% of the region's residents had a 4-year degree or higher in 2010-14, compared to 25% in 2000. Just 11% of residents did not have a high school diploma in 2010-14.
The share of residents with a bachelor’s or higher was highest among Asians in the region (56%), followed by whites (32%), African Americans (22%) and Hispanics (18%). Still, those figures reflect increases of 9 percentage points for African Americans and 5 points for Hispanics from 2000.