Talk 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.
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