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23% of S.D. High School Students Dropped Out Last Year

The California Department of Education says nearly a quarter of San Diego public high school students dropped out in the 2006-07 school year. The San Diego Unified School Superintendent calls that an

23% of S.D. High School Students Dropped Out Last Year

The California Department of Education says nearly a quarter of San Diego public high school students dropped out in the 2006-07 school year. The San Diego Unified School Superintendent calls that an embarrassment.  KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details. The report shows nearly 23 percent of ninth- through 12th-grade students within the San Diego Unified School District dropped out during the 2006-07 academic year.

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That compares with 24.2 percent of public school students throughout California that dropped out during the same period.

San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Terry Grier says the dropout rate for all students in the district must change.

<b> Grier: </b> Over a four year period, it's adjusted of course. But for example for Latino students it's 30.5 percent, African-American students it's 28.7. White students it's 15.3. This is unacceptable, it's embarrassing and it's disappointing.

Grier, who started as superintendent last March, says a key to improving the graduation rate is making classes challenging and relevant to students.

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<b> Grier: </b> That they can connect what they're being taught to some type of future, and a meaningful job or meaningful career. It has to have a lot to do with relationships. The kind of relationships that you develop between student and teacher and student and student. And frankly I think a lot of it has to do with rigor as well. We have a lot more kids dropping out of school because they're bored than more people want to admit or agree to.

He says the district has started some new programs to reduce the dropout rate.

<b> Grier: </b> Next year we have implemented graduation coaches in each one of our high schools. This summer we are installing new computer labs. And this is a program to help students recover lost credit. So if someone has failed courses, a student has failed courses, they can use the software program along with the tutoring help of this graduation coach to recover that credit and get back on track toward graduation.

Grier says the goal is to cut the district's dropout rate in half within the next three years.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.