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San Diego County’s Dropout Rate Increases

San Diego County high school students dropped out of school at a slightly greater rate and graduated at a slightly reduced rate, according to year-over-year figures released Tuesday.

However, while those figures were for the entire county, dropout and graduation rates for students in the San Diego Unified School District showed better results.

In the entire county for 2013-14, the most recent academic year, the dropout rate among the more than 40,000 students who began ninth grade together in 2010-11 was 9.7 percent, or about 3,900 students, according to the state Department of Education's new report. That was up from the 9.2 percent rate for the class of 2012-13. However, both those years were better than the rate of 10.1 percent in 2011-12.

The graduation rate — the percentage of students receiving high school diplomas — for students in the class of 2013-14 was 79.6 percent. That was a slight reduction from the 79.8 percent of the previous year, according to the state. But again, both those years were better than the 2011-12 rate of 79 percent.

In the San Diego Unified School District, the county's largest, the dropout rate among 7,100 students was 4.5 percent for 2013-14, or 322 students. That's an improvement from the 5.2 percent the year before.

And the district graduation rate also improved to 89.6 percent, up from 87.9 percent. District officials weren't immediately available to comment on the new numbers.

Superintendent Cindy Marten said San Diego Unified had the lowest dropout rate among large, urban districts in the state, and the second-highest graduate rate among such districts.

"To once again be at the top among the state's largest school districts in these important areas is an incredible validation of the hard work and commitment of our teachers, staff, families and students to ensure all students will graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary for academic and career success," Marten said. "The data show that our high expectations for all students are being met and that we are on the right course to make even greater progress across all student groups."

The overall numbers for California graduation rates were slightly better than the numbers for San Diego County as a whole and SDUSD. Statewide, the graduation rate climbed for the fifth year in a row, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

A total of 80.8 percent of the state's students who started high school in 2010-11 graduated with their class in 2014, a 0.4 percent increase over the previous year's class.

"Our record high graduation rate is great news, especially since it is occurring at the same time we are raising academic standards," Torlakson said. "This is more evidence that the dramatic changes taking place in our schools are gradually helping to improve teaching and learning in every classroom.

"We have raised academic standards, started online testing, given local districts more flexibility in spending and provided more resources to students who need it most," he said.

The report also showed a statewide rise in the dropout rate. Of the students who started high school in 2010-11, 11.4 dropped out, up 0.2 percent, according to the state.

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