As First-Ever Certified Graduation Looms on June 22, Just 310 of 862 New Rochelle High School Students Have Met Criteria to Graduate as of June 7

Written By: Robert Cox

NRHS GraduationTalk of the Sound has learned that as of June 7, 2011, just 310 of 862 students in the 2011 cohort at New Rochelle High School have met criteria for the high school’s new “certified” graduation. The New Rochelle High School graduation will take place on June 22nd.

Throughout the school year, New Rochelle High School Principal Don Conetta has been presenting projections on students who “will graduate”, who “won’t graduate” and “may graduate”. Conetta used these projections to assert three months ago that 546 of the 862 students in the class of 2011 are “likely to graduate”. At this point, 310 students have meet criteria either because they already had enough credits going into the last quarter of the school year or they completed the night school program which ended last Thursday.

Prior to the end of the night program, just 291 students met criteria to graduate on June 22nd. Many students are expected to earn the required credits in the coming days as they complete finals and Regents exams; the question is of the 552 students who are still “maybe” or “no”, will 246 of them convert to “yes” in the next two weeks. The following calculations provide an explanation:

2011 NRHS Cohort = 862 (source Don Conetta to BoE)

Winter 2011 (source Don Conetta to BoE)
Projected “Likely to Graduate” = 546
Projected “Will Not Graduate” = 316
Projected On Time Graduation Rate = 63.3%
Projected “Will Not Graduate” “Likely to Graduate” = 100% – 63.3% = 36.7%

June 2011 (source, Talk of the Sound)

Met Criteria for Certified Graduation as of June 1, 2011 = 291
Met Criteria for Certified Graduation as of June 7, 2011 = 310
Balance of 2011 NRHS Cohort where final status is not determined = 862 – 310 = 552
Students projected “Likely to Graduate” who have not yet met criteria for Certified Graduation as of June 7, 2011 = 546 – 310 = 246

Of the 546 students projected as “likely to graduate” 310 or 56.8% have met criteria going into Finals and Regents week. The open question is how many of the remaining 246 students projected as “likely to graduate” have been reassigned to the “Will Not Graduate” list or will fail a course and/or a Regents exam in the coming days. The high school knows some of this, according to past statements by Don Conetta, because they are sending parents and students letters notifying them in advance if a student will not be allowed to walk in the graduation ceremony on June 22nd.

For years, New Rochelle High School graduation ceremonies have not been certified by the New York State Education Department because the school allowed students to participate without having completed the course requirements necessary to receive a high school diploma. While the school district does not release official numbers, sources within the district estimate that roughly 100 students each year walk in the graduation ceremony without having qualified to graduate.

Under the leadership of outgoing Board of Education President Sara Richmond, the New Rochelle Board of Education conducted an unofficial straw poll last August which showed unanimous support for requiring students to meet all criteria prior to walking in the high school graduation ceremony. The district formally adopted a policy of holding a certified graduation a month later`.

Throughout the year, school board members have been asking New Rochelle High School Principal Don Conetta for information about the transition to a certified high school graduation. There have been two primary concerns: that students and parents are made fully aware of the new policy and that in cases where a student may not or will not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony that both student and parents are warned far in advance so that there are no surprises on June 22nd. Conetta has been highly evasive, repeatedly pretending not to understand questions from board members as to how the high school is managing the communications with parents and students and what sort of projections Conetta has made. At board meetings in November and in March, Conetta appeared before the board but refused to provide direct answers to direct questions.

Conetta’s behavior stands in stark contrast to his appearance before the Board of Education last August when he was asked to come before the board to explain what programs he would put in place to address the all-time low graduation rates for the high school announced by the New York State Education Department in March 2010 for the 2008-2009 school year. At the time the June 2009 graduation rate was announced by the SED, Board of Education President, speaking for the entire board, called the results “disappointing”. Privately, several board members called the graduation rates “shocking” and “alarming”.

Conetta repeatedly sought to deflect questions about the SED 2009 data released in March 2010 by claiming in August 2010 that he had already projected that the 2010 data would be better. The SED has yet to publish the 2010 data. According to SED officials, the graduation rate data report for 2010 for all New York schools has been a bit delayed but is expected to be published in mid-June. So, when it suits him (2010) Conetta claims to be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy the graduation rates but when it does not suit him (2009, 2011) Conetta prognostication skills suddenly become hazy.

Conetta has been overheard telling staff that he is unconcerned about the poor performance at the high school, claiming “there is nothing they can do to me because I am out of here in a year”. Conetta is planning to retire at the end of the 2011-12 school year.


100.5 Diploma Requirements

Students first entering grade nine in the 2001-2002 school year, but prior to the 2008-2009 school year, shall have earned at least 22 units of credit including two credits in physical education to receive either a Regents or local high school diploma. Students first entering grade nine in the 2008-2009 school year and thereafter shall have earned at least 22 units of credit including two credits in physical education to receive a Regents diploma. Such units of credit shall incorporate the commencement level of the State learning standards in: English language arts; social studies; mathematics, science, technology; the arts (including visual arts, music, dance and theatre); languages other than English; health, physical education, family and consumer sciences; and career development and occupational studies. Such units of credit shall include:

  • English, four units of commencement level credit;
  • social studies, four units of credit as set forth in paragraph (6) of this subdivision;
  • science, three units of credit of commencement level science, at least one course shall be life sciences and at least one in the physical sciences, the third may be either life sciences or physical sciences;
  • mathematics, three units of credit of mathematics, which shall be at a more advanced level than grade eight, shall meet commencement level learning standards as determined by the commissioner, provided that no more than two credits shall be earned for any Integrated Algebra, Geometry, or Algebra 2 and Trigonometry commencement level mathematics course;
  • visual arts and/or music, dance, or theatre, one unit of credit; and
  • health education, one-half unit of credit in accordance with the requirements set forth in section 135.3(c) of this Title. Learning standards in the area of parenting shall be attained through either the health or family and consumer sciences programs or a separate course


5 thoughts on “As First-Ever Certified Graduation Looms on June 22, Just 310 of 862 New Rochelle High School Students Have Met Criteria to Graduate as of June 7”

  1. Feeder school statistics?
    Last year we had some statistics on which feeder schools were producing the most high school graduates. I haven’t seen these figures this year. When will these statistics be available?

  2. Why is the rate of graduation suddenly so low?
    The graduation rates in New Rochelle may show a drastic drop this year and if this happens all our graduates in the future will find themselves having a harder time reaching their goals (e.g college of choice, job etc.) We need an explanation for this sudden drop in the graduation rate. Have the mandated Regents exams been a hurdle? What is the problem?

    1. not a sudden drop….yet

      There are still many students who will earn the necessary credits to graduate between now and June 22nd so we still need to wait and see what happens.

      My sources tell me that the Don Conetta and his crew at the high school are furiously scrambling for ways to add more numbers to the numerator (students who meet criteria) and ways to reduce the denominator (students who entered 9th grade in fall 2007).

      The high school has come up with something they call “credit recovery” under which, somehow, students who do not have enough credits to graduate can get a few extra credits at that last minute (anyone who read Michael Lewis’ book “The Blind Side” knows about this scam).

      The high school also has fiddled with the cohort size in the past; the problems is that if you keep pushing kids out of one cohort they end up in another cohort (the class of 2012 in this case) which only postpones the day of reckoning.

      The key is to watch the denominator because it is the easy number of finagle; if they drop the cohort below 862 you know they are up to their usual tricks.

      1. its the students not the school
        While every Highschool in the nation has issues with funding and poor quality teachers New Rochelle High School is one that has the funding and excellent teachers, our students could take full advantage of all the learning oppotunities at NRHS and its beautiful campus that theyre so fortunate to have, but they choose not to.. I graduated in 05 and the quality in education could not have drasticly deteriorated since then, rather its the quality of students, lets face it kids these days only want the life they see on MTV and other “cultural” sources. Their role models are Snooki and other trashy “celebs” All they want to do is get drunk, get high, and party, and make fast money.. i personally know several students who will not graduate this year for this very reason, they dont care to learn and theyre not interested. They only want instant gratification and instant results, they do not know about working towards goals and meeting them. Teens always wanted to do these things my class was no exception but many of us still realized the importance of education we knew how to balance work and fun and were brought up on more “traditional” values. These day our teens have very little value for themselves or others and its a sign of our degenerting society, we see it everywhere we look these days. whats scary is these kids are the future and they dont care about citizenship, american values if such things are even taught to them in school these day.. they dont care about free market capitalism either because there will be no jobs for them if they graduate, to them the future looks bleak and with good reason.

      2. school district
        Mister G returns after an absence. Pleased to be back and say as simply as I can, I have many more issues with Bob Cox on form, not substance. By this I mean presentation and style; I try to be optomist, more conciliatory in approach. Bob is Bob, but make no mistake about it; the man is an asset. He is fearless, prepared, and there is no stronger voice in New Rochelle on the school district. I hope that consciousness in this City can begin to think about this very issue he raises now and demand more than a tsk, tsk, but really hold the Board accountable for appropriate oversight and policy change. Also, it is high time the City Council understood that one of the major, perhaps the major reason a residential and commercial base is built and subsequently thrives is through district performance. Why would a responsible family come here if the graduation rate reflects such rssults.

        I am very pro school district in concept, and hopefully, at some point, design. Everyone plays a major role regardless of where the taxpayer resides. Nobody wins in a system that performs well under expectations and potential. Parents, city government, school board, administration and faculty have to concede that change is not only needed, it is required to properly integrate with any City Plan for revitalization, growth, development — how the electorate system between city and district is frankly, irrelevant.

        Glad to be back and like him, hate him, tolerate him, or ignore him — this is where he can make an enormous difference.

        You don’t have to embrace him, simply listen to him and if you have something to say, debate him.

        warren gross

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