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Study: San Diego Graduation Rates Expected To Drop

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March 23, 2016 1:26 p.m.

GUESTS:

Julian Betts, economics professor, UC San Diego

Richard Barrera, board trustee, San Diego Unified School District

Related Story: Study: San Diego Graduation Rates Expected To Drop

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

The good news is educators are expecting an increase in the number of San Diego's graduating high school seniors these transcripts make them college eligible but the bad news is an unexpected drop in the number of seniors to graduate from San Diego high school this year. Both outcomes stem from a change in graduation standards aimed at getting more students to go to college for Joining me is Julian Betts UC San Diego economics faster and lead author of is ready on the new college prep graduation requirements, Julian welcome to the program.
It's good to be here. Richard joins us with the San Diego unified school board is a trust the there welcome Richard.
Gradually and how are these new graduation standards different from the old ones?
San Diego those at high standard the two big changes are that before this came in the place you to graduate from the district without completing any language courses and that was a two-year requirement and the other big changes that now you have to take as the highest math course what used to be called intermediate algebra or algebra to which has traditionally been a very difficult course for many students to complete. Doors of the two biggest to this but in general a college prep requirements that will be a new standards starting in June.
, Should your study find the new standards will affect graduation rates in San Diego.
My colleagues and I worked with transcript data right through August of last year to see how students are improving and we have five pieces of good news and two pieces of bad news with you want first.
Had news first.
That is okay as of August in the class of 20 1610 months for graduation this coming June we found that about 72% of units were on track to graduate on time in English math and world languages were the biggest barrier subjects. There were subjects who were close about 12% to at the start of September more than one year of work to do with only in one subject areas you can imagine through some of the great things that the district has implemented you could catch up there is 14 1/2% of students that had more than one year of work to come we and anywhere from 2 to 5 subjects over them it's going to be pretty hard to graduate by Jim but the district is asked pending summer school so there are options for students.
Let me ask you about the demographics of this it into are most at risk of not graduating.
Writes. We look at students who were English learners in grade 9 and 34% of students in the class of 2016 for English learners in grade 9 are on light to graduate. For special education students it was 38%, and then in terms of race and ethnicity Hispanic students and African-American students were at about 60 to 60% on track to graduate on time and then if your parents I graduated from high school about 60% of students in those groups are on track to graduate. Obviously much higher rates for more socially economically advantaged groups.
I promise I will let you get to the good news I want to ask Christian Barrera, why are so many students behind?
We believe in the class of 2016 it is ahead of prior classes and we think the class in 2016 is likely to hit the all-time high graduation rate in our district which is saying something because if you look at the class of 2014 were we have complete data that class graduated at 89.7%, close to 90% which is very very high for a large urban district. We actually believe this class of 26 teen with the new requirements is going to hit the 90% rate.
So you disagree with Julian's rejection.
It's not that we disagree with Julian study looks at and what makes a lot of sense, but with Julian has not been able to have access to is the data on credit recovery for instance, so the reason I say that the class of 2016 is ahead is if you compare this class at the end of the software year to the class of 2014 which hit a near 90% rate, at the end of the sophomore year that class of 2014 was 50% of students on track to graduate. This class was 59% on track to graduate. It is always the case that students, who fail math or English in ninth grade you get off track, it is always the case that students can catch up if we provide the right support.
What kind of support is San Diego unified providing because you are actively trying to get those graduation rate up this year.
Yes. There are a series got the most important strategy has been under the leadership of superintendent Cindy Martin, we have gone through for the past two years individual student by individual student transcript look at where they are at and then look at the master schedule of the school the fiscal does not offer an ATG course we make sure the student has access to the course and we have had disparities in the past in terms of what schools have offered ATG and which of not. We are correcting the problem in looking at individual student by individuals today and in some cases when rolling students and credit recovery programs for with students that need to meet the new foreign language requirements, there are's it into actually contest to achieve proficiency who do not have to take the extra courses and it is the expanded summer school that we have been offering. Line
And I promise Julian that I would let you get to the good news and part of that is the projected increase in the number of units of San Diego unified you are going to graduate college ready. Back by and this is --
The central idea is that some will thrive in go to university and students stay on track in grade 12 we are finding that it could be as much as a 10 percentage point increase the students to graduate would be eligible to attend Cal state and USC. For to do that were minimizing the risk. What Richard was saying earlier about the class been better prepared is absolutely true. Our analyses show that even though there has been an up for long time in the number of ATG courses taken the classes of 2014 and later breaking from the trend in a good positive way.
We will leave it there. We will even on a positive note. Thank you both for coming in and explaining this, Julian Betts economics professor at UC ST and Richard Barrera of the San Diego unified board as a trustee. Thank you both.