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Achievement Gap For Blacks, Latinos In San Diego Unified Narrows

Graduation caps are thrown in the air, May 17, 2009.

Credit: Shilad Sen / Flickr

Above: Graduation caps are thrown in the air, May 17, 2009.

The rate for African-American students nearly matches the school district's record graduation rate of 92 percent overall.

One percentage point. That's all that remains of the gap between graduation rates for African-American students and all students in San Diego Unified.

In April the district announced it was on track to hit a record graduation rate among large California districts: 92 percent overall. Data released Friday shows San Diego's African-American students will graduate at about that same rate — 91 percent — essentially closing the achievement gap when it comes to graduation.

The rate for Latinos has also risen — 88 percent, from 85 percent in 2015.

"We are on the path to ensure that African-Americans and Latinos will achieve at the same rate as other students," said board member Sharon Whitehurst-Payne, who represents schools in San Diego's historically black neighborhoods. "Are we there? I would not dare to stand before you and say we are there. But we are on the path."

Superintendent Cindy Marten said students of color benefitted from a districtwide effort to ensure all students graduate with the courses necessary to get into a state university. Beginning in 2011, all levels of the district made changes to better track student progress toward graduation and offer counseling when students fell off course.

"This progress that you're seeing is irreversible, and we're expecting continued rise in our graduation rates," Marten said.

Schools with more students of color — Lincoln, Crawford, Hoover, Morse and San Diego high schools — got additional counselors to help students meet the new graduation requirements.

The district said the graduation rate for English-language learners should hold steady. Last year, 73 percent of English learners graduated. As of May, the rate was projected at 61 percent.

A spokesman for the district said many English learners require summer school to get past the finish line, and that the 2015 data includes those students. He said about 200 senior English learners are enrolled in summer school — similar to enrollment in previous years — and that the district expects to see a final graduation rate at or above the 2015 rate for the group come August.

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