Quality educational opportunities are critical to helping our children develop to their maximum potential and to our community’s ability to compete in the global economy. In this section, we summarize trends in the performance of our area’s educational system.  

Like most of life, children’s education was dramatically affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with many students in our area learning on a fully or partially remote basis in the 2020-21 school year. As a result, most students did not take state tests and therefore testing data in this section has not been updated (for more information, see the state’s website).

In all cases, comparisons to state statistics reflect the state excluding New York City.

The percentage of preschoolers receiving special education services has been increasing since 2000. 
From 2000 to 2020, the share increased 3.5 percentage points, similar to the  state percentage. In 2020, 7.9% of all 3- to 5-year-olds in the region and 7.2% in the state were receiving special education services. 

Prekindergarten enrollment has been steady since 2009, but remains below the rate for the state.  
About 28% of the region's 4-year-olds were enrolled in publicly funded prekindergarten programs in 2020, below the 42% rate for the state. Participation was highest in Orange and Sullivan counties (37% and 38% respectively),  followed by Ulster (35%). Dutchess had the lowest enrollment at 16%.

Per–student spending by school districts is slightly higher in the region than in the state.
In 2020, per-student spending by school districts in the region was approximately $27,600, more than the state at $25,700. Per-student spending in the region has increased 69% since 2000, even after adjusting for inflation.  Spending in Sullivan County was the highest in the region, about $31,300 per student, followed by Putnam County school districts at $31,200 and Ulster County at $29,200. Dutchess and Orange counties were the lowest in the region at about $26,300 per student.

The region has lower passing rates on fourth–grade English exams than the state.
The 2019 passing rate of 41% in English was 4 points below the state. Passing rates on state tests were significantly lower for low-income, English language learners, and students with disabilities than for their peers. In the region, 27% of low-income fourth-graders passed the English exams and 7% for both English language learners and students with disabilities.  Greene and Ulster counties' economically disadvantaged students had the lowest proficiency rate among the counties at 21% and Dutchess had the highest at 34%. We note that 22% of students in the region opted not to take the exam. 

The region has lower passing rates on fourth–grade math exams than the state.
The 2019 passing rate of 46% in math was 3 points below the state. Passing rates on state tests were significantly lower for low-income, English language learners, and students with disabilities than for their peers. In the region, 32% of low-income fourth-graders passed the math exams, 13% of English language learners, and 11% of students with disabilities. Ulster County had the lowest proficiency rate among economically disadvantaged students at 25% and Greene had the highest at 41%. About 24% of students region-wide opted out of the exam.

Both high school graduation and dropout rates are in line with statewide trends. 
By 2021, 88% of the region’s 2017 cohort graduated on time, similar to the state (89%).  About 5% of the cohort dropped out,  similar to the state rate.

An increasing proportion of high school graduates plan to attend college.
In 2017, 83% of high school seniors in the region planned to attend college, with 36% planning to attend a 2-year program and 47% planning to attend a 4-year program. The regional college-bound rate in 2017 was slightly higher than the state rate of 82%. Rates were similar across most of the regional counties except for Putnam where 90% of graduates planned to attend college.

Education levels among adults are rising, with more having a college education.
In 2016-20, 62% of adults had attended at least some college, up from 52% in 2000 and even with the nation. About 33% of the region's residents had a 4-year degree or higher in 2016-20, compared to 25% in 2000. Just 10% of residents in the region did not have a high school diploma in 2016-20. Educational attainment among counties in the region was highest in Putnam County, with 41% of residents possessing a 4-year degree or higher, compared to 24% in Greene and 27% in Sullivan. 

The share of residents with a bachelor’s or higher was highest among Asians in the region (53%), followed by whites (35%),  African Americans (23%) and Hispanics (22%). Still, those figures reflect increases of 11 percentage points for African Americans and 9 points for Hispanics from 2000.

Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Rate of Child Abuse and Neglect Decreasing
Rate of Foster Care Admissions Decreasing
Teen Pregnancy Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Juvenile Delinquency Intakes Decreasing
Bullying at School Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Total Population Increasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Household Types Not Applicable
Change in Total Jobs Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Employment by Sector Not Applicable
Spending for County Government Increasing
Tourism Revenue Decreasing
Preschoolers Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Decreasing
Per-Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 4 English, by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 4 English, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 4 Math, by Student Group Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 4 Math, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
High School Cohort Dropout Rate Decreasing
High School GED Rate Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Seniors Living in Poverty Maintaining
Children Receiving Subsidized Child Care Maintaining
Veterans Living in Poverty Decreasing
Economically Disadvantaged Students Increasing
Earned Income Tax Credit Participation Decreasing
Living Wage Rate by Household Type Not Applicable
Income in Relation to Poverty Level Not Applicable
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Early Prenatal Care, by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Domestic Violence Decreasing
Deaths from Drug Overdoses Increasing
Babies with Low Birth Weights Maintaining
People Living wth HIV Increasing
Mental Health Clinic Visits Decreasing
Homeownership Rates Maintaining
Homeless Persons Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
Housing Affordability for Renters Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing