In the class of 2014, 93 percent of white students graduated in four years, compared to a much lower 79 percent of black students and 81 percent of Latino students. And again, when we disaggregate graduation rates by district, our districts with the highest proportion of students receiving free or reduced price lunch have cripplingly low graduation rates. In Trenton, for example, only 53 percent of the class of 2014 graduated from high school. And in Camden, only 62 percent of high school seniors received their diplomas.
Likewise, AP exam participation data for students in New Jersey reveals similar gaps; the proportion of white students taking AP exams outpaces that of students of color. In 2013, only 13 percent of black graduates and 25 percent of Latino graduates took at least one AP exam during high school, compared to 32 percent of white graduates.
The odds are stacked against our most disadvantaged students in New Jersey, beginning early in their formative years and lasting until they attempt to enter the workforce or go to college. Prudent policy change is needed if we are going to ensure that all of New Jersey’s students have access to great public schools.