Education is key to a community’s future. In this section, we examine indicators of student achievement, such as state test scores, and educational outcomes, such as graduation rates, as well as measures such as prekindergarten participation and school attendance. We look at the education levels of adults and the levels of high-tech employment. In all cases, comparisons to the state reflect the state excluding New York City.
In summary, Cayuga and Seneca counties have:
- Lower graduation rates and higher school dropout rates than the state
- Mixed performance on third-grade state tests, with Cayuga lower than the state and Seneca above
- Performance at about the state level on the Regents English exam
- Disparities in performance on state math and science tests between low-income and other eighth-graders, but not as stark as the state
- A lower proportion than the state of high school graduates planning on attending 4-year colleges, and a lower share of adults with bachelor’s or higher degrees
- High-tech employment above the state level in Seneca but below in Cayuga
- Rising participation in publicly funded prekindergarten programs in Cayuga but lower and falling levels in Seneca
- Lower rates of preschoolers receiving special education services than the state, but levels on par with the state of school-age children receiving services
- High rates of school attendance, at or above state levels
- School suspension rates similar to state levels
The percentage of the 2006 cohort that graduated on time (by 2010) was 72% in Cayuga and 75% in Seneca, lower than the state’s 81% graduation rate. Graduation rates in Cayuga have fluctuated in recent years, peaking at 74% for the class of 2005. Seneca’s graduation rates have declined from 79% for the class of 2005. About 11% of the 2006 cohorts in both Cayuga and Seneca counties had dropped out by the time the class was ready to graduate in 2010, higher than the state dropout rate of 7%. Dropout rates in both counties have improved since the 2001 cohort, when the rate was 16% in Cayuga and 13% in Seneca.
Seven percent of Cayuga’s class of 2010 transferred to a GED program, much higher than the 1% in Seneca and the state. Cayuga’s high rate was largely driven by the Auburn school district, where the number of GED students grew from 8 to 37 over the past several years. Rates in Seneca and statewide have been below 2% for the past several years.
Passing rates in 2011 on third-grade exams in Cayuga were 53% for English and 56% for math, compared to 61% and 62% for the state. In Seneca, 64% of third-graders passed both exams. While performance fell across the state in 2010 when the state adjusted passing thresholds, Seneca regained some ground in 2011, boosting its passing rate by 9 percentage points in English and 5 points in math.
In 2010, 84% of students in Cayuga and 87% in Seneca passed the English Regents exam, compared to 83% in the state. Cayuga had the lowest passing rate of the six area counties, though it has increased from 79% in 2000. In Seneca, the passing rate peaked at 91% in 2008 before declining by a few points in 2009 and 2010.
Disparities in performance between low-income and other students on the state’s eighth-grade math and science exams in 2010 were not as great as those at the state level. In Cayuga, 45% of low-income eighth-graders passed the math exam, compared to 65% of other eighth-graders. In Seneca, 41% of low-income eighth-graders passed, compared to 63% of other eighth-graders. Across the state, the passing rate for low-income students was 37%, compared to 70% for other eighth-graders.
Similarly, on the 2010 science exam, 72% of low-income eighth-graders in Cayuga passed the science exam, compared to 89% of other eighth-graders. In Seneca, passing rates were 78% for low-income students and 85% for all other students. Across the state, only 66% of low-income eighth graders passed, compared to 89% of other eighth-graders.
Both Cayuga and Seneca have tended to have fewer graduates planning on 4-year colleges than the state. While 48% of state graduates were headed to 4-year colleges in 2010, just 35% of Cayuga graduates and 27% of Seneca graduates were. Nearly half of the class in Cayuga and Seneca were headed to 2-year colleges, compared to 36% in the state. In addition, Seneca has had a somewhat higher share of graduates who plan on working than the state and other counties, which reached a high of 16% of graduates in 2010.
Compared to the state and nation, Cayuga and Seneca counties had fewer adults with bachelor’s or higher degrees and more with a high school diploma. In 2006-10, 18% of adults in both counties held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 28% in the nation and 31% in the state. High school graduates made up 37% of the adult population in Cayuga and 36% in Seneca, compared to about 30% in both the state and nation. About 30% in both counties had some college or an associate’s degree, and the rest lacked a high school diploma, similar to the state and nation.
In 2010, 1.4% of jobs in Cayuga and 8.1% of jobs in Seneca were high-tech, compared to about 7% in the state and nearly 10% in the nation. The rate in Cayuga remained fairly steady since 2000, while the rate in Seneca has been falling since a high of 12% in 2002.
While more than half of 4-year-olds in Cayuga and the state were enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten programs, 37% were in Seneca. Cayuga and the state have had marked increases since 2000; Seneca’s participation rate increased through 2005 and then declined, ending 6 points above 2000.
In 2010, 3.9% of Cayuga preschoolers and 4.6% of Seneca preschoolers were receiving special education services, below the state rate of 6.1%. But the share of school-aged residents receiving special education services was closer to or above state levels at 8% in Cayuga and 11% in Seneca, compared to the state rate of 9%. These rates have remained fairly stable, while the preschool rates have been declining since 2007.
School attendance was very high in both the counties for both elementary and secondary students. Average elementary attendance in 2010 was 95% in Cayuga, 96% in Seneca and 95% in the state. Average secondary attendance was 94% in both counties and 92% in the state.
In 2009, 6% of students in Cayuga and 5% of students in Seneca had been suspended, similar to the state rate of 5%. Rates in both counties peaked around 8% in 2005 and have since declined.