Students at Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical Education High School work on a car as part of the automotive program. Photo: Jessica Glazer
Two years ago, a low-performing vocational high school in the Bronx escaped closure. Under a new principal, attendance and morale have improved, reports Chalkbeat New York. But enrollment is way down at Alfred E. Smith Career and Technical High. Test scores and graduation rates remain low.
Principal Evan Schwartz hopes to reach a “90 percent attendance, 80 percent of first-year students earning 10 or more credits, and a 70 percent four-year graduation rate” this year.
Smith has been known for its attendance problems — Schwartz said that in years past, you couldn’t tell when the day ended because students trickled in and out of the building all day — but last year, the attendance rate increased to 83 percent, according to his estimates. (Official numbers for last year are not yet available.) That’s up from 73 percent in 2011-12.
Graduation rates have been more stubborn. In 2012-13, Smith graduated just 51 percent of its students in four years, according to the city progress report, including August graduates. Last year, 61 percent of students graduated, Schwartz says.
That increase is likely related to the fact that the school convinced nearly 100 over-aged, under-credited students who attended class intermittently to transfer out of Smith and into transfer schools or more flexible Young Adult Borough Centers.
Last year, Smith opened a “cutting-edge” auto shop. It’s also added some AP classes.
Yet, the school has trouble attracting students. Enrollment is down from 950 three years ago to fewer than 400. And the “transformation grant” is running out.