Audit: Roosevelt schools undercounted dropouts

Roosevelt school officials have upgraded their system for Roosevelt school officials have upgraded their system for tracking students who leave the district, after a state Education Department audit found that the district had undercounted dropouts in two recent years. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Roosevelt school officials have upgraded their system for tracking students who leave the district, after a state Education Department audit found that the district had undercounted dropouts in two recent years.

The audit, reviewed Monday by the state Board of Regents, reported that Roosevelt had not properly accounted for 29 students who left the district before their classmates graduated in 2011 and 2012.

As a result, the district's high school graduation rates were lower than had been calculated. They should have been about 61.3 percent rather than 68 percent in 2011, and 68 percent rather than 72.8 percent in 2012.

The high school had 130 graduates in 2011 and 160 in 2012.

Teens who drop out of school are counted against their district's graduation rates, unlike those who transfer to other districts and are included in student rosters there.

The audit also said that Roosevelt had shown "considerable improvement" in student record-keeping since a review in 2010.

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In response to the findings, Kim Nisbett, who is Roosevelt's counseling coordinator, said her staff recently began collecting requests from other districts for records of students who transfer there. The purpose is to document enrollment of students in other districts.

Nisbett complimented state auditors for their "clear and concise" recommendations for improved record-keeping.

Low graduation rates are a problem at Roosevelt High School, along with low student scores on state English and math exams. The school has been posted on the state's list of lowest achievers for more than 20 years and has not shown enough improvement in recent years to be considered for removal from the list.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo recently threatened to turn management of failed schools over to state or private agencies. Many educators denounced the idea.

Roosevelt High's graduation rate, while slowly improving, remains below the state's minimum standard of 80 percent. Principal Stephen Strachan recently reported that the graduation percentage rate for 2013 was in the high 70s. The state has not verified any figure.

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