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Graduation Rates Up Slightly Across San Diego County

April 12, 2017 1:25 p.m.

Graduation Rates Up Slightly Across San Diego County


Mario Koran, reporter, Voice of San Diego

Related Story: Graduation Rates Up Slightly Across San Diego County


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.

A report on the record-breaking graduation rate for San Diego find some loopholes. We take on the issue of disconnected youth. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I am Maureen Cavanaugh it is Wednesday, April 12. Our top story on midday edition state education officials have confirmed a record high graduation rate for 2016 high school seniors and the San Diego unified school district. 91.2% of the class received a diploma. School superintendent Cindy Martin said it was the highest picked -- district graduation rate in the state. Some taken into the numbers reveals that the graduation rate is not as straightforward as it seems. The voice of education reporter Mario Karen joins me with the factors that went into San Diego's record graduation rate. Welcome to the program.
Hearing that the high school graduation rate last year was 91% you might think that that met 91% of the kids that started out as freshman the night class graduated. That is not the case is it.
The high graduation rate Sickles -- signals that everything is okay but all the things that graduation rate seems to reflect are doing well. We take a look at with his graduation rate actually measures we see that thousands of students left the district after the start of their freshman year and when they didn't leave their sort of just effectively removed from the equation. Like they were never in the graduate to begin with. We see a lot of student movement and when that happens we have seen San Diego unified benefit from that.
's students feel that they have to graduate.
Did most of the students met the charter schools.
We have seen some of them moved to charter schools almost 40% moved to other school district so between the two moving to other school districts and charter schools that is where most went. We may see some overlap in when we got charter schools for example if a student to a charter school they recorded is moving to another school district. The point is we could in fact see more students move to charter schools down the numbers reflect.
San Diego officials said that the graduation rate is even more amazing because all of the 2016 class was required to take college prep courses. How did that stricter standard not lower the graduation rate.
It is correct to say that the standards were raised. There are certain amendments baked into the system the hallway. For example. What the point was in raising these standards is that every student who graduated from San Diego unified would have had access to these classes.
Early on they were worried that the graduation rate with one so what they did was allow students to pass with these so long as the overall grade point average stated that the to point out. That means that students are passing classes with these and those do you still help for the University of California or CSU schools. That was sort of the main point of raising the graduation standards to begin with. That is one way in which the graduation rate number does not tell the whole story.
What are some of the other factors he found that seem to increase the graduation rate? One of them seems to have to do with the foreign language requirement.
This was back in 2014 when I ran the numbers early on for how many students were on track for graduation. For English learners they were there just at risk of falling short of graduation.
Amir 9% of them on track to graduate just two years ago. It turns out that the part of what kept them behind or off track was a foreign language requirement that every student had to take.
District staffers argue that this already speaks another foreign language. That allowed students to test out of that time and that seems to have really helped English learners who are the furthest behind.
You also mentioned that some students had access to online courses that help them get up to speed. Why do you think it is important to look behind the numbers?
Again what we are seeing as we have not found any evidence that rules were broken or anything improper was done however there is a caveat in that the US Department of Education is auditing California's graduation rate. We do not know what they are going to find a house fire that has gone or what? Were there looking out but that is a caveat to think about. Setting that aside I think it was important just because a lot of times school district officials will tell these numbers without any real the context to understand what it means signals that we have an impressive public education system when we take a look at what this graduation rate is actually measure we see that there are certain games that school districts can play that can inflate their numbers seemingly artificially. If we were to take a look at the number of students who started versus number of student who ended the fact that thousands of student left the district certainly help with the graduation rate itself does not show that. We thought it was important from a public service standpoint to explain what the numbers mean.
I've been speaking with education Mario Karen. Thank you.