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Graduation Rates Up Slightly Across San Diego County

San Diego High School is situated on Park Boulevard in Balboa Park, Aug. 1, 2...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: San Diego High School is situated on Park Boulevard in Balboa Park, Aug. 1, 2016.

Graduation Rates Up Slightly Across San Diego County

GUEST:

Mario Koran, reporter, Voice of San Diego

Transcript

The dropout and graduation rates among San Diego County students in the high school class of 2015-16 remained stable, compared to last year, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Department of Education.

The dropout rate for San Diego County students who started high school in 2012-13 was 8 percent, down from 8.3 percent for the class of 2014-15. The graduation rate was 81.7 percent, compared to 81.8 percent for the previous year's class.

The San Diego Unified School District saw a continued decline in the dropout rate, 3.4 percent in 2015-16, down from 3.5 percent the previous year. Two years ago, the rate was 4.5 percent, and it was 5.2 percent three years ago.

The graduation rate was 91.2 percent, up from last year's 89.4 percent. The performance was the best among large school districts in the state.

"The students, parents and teachers of San Diego Unified should be immensely proud of this achievement," said Superintendent Cindy Marten.

"Not only did the Class of 2016 achieve the highest big-district graduation rate in the state, they did it while we raised the requirements to graduate," Marten said. "Our students have proven once again they will achieve more when we ask more from them."

She also noted the district's progress in closing the achievement gap between African American and Latino students when compared to the overall student population. The graduation rate last year for African Americans was 87.4 percent, while it was 87.6 percent for Latinos.

The district has come under fire for excluding from its tabulation thousands of students who left their district-managed schools for charter schools with lower graduation requirements. It's common for such students to be left out of graduation rates; advocates this week sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos saying they want that to stop.

Statewide, the graduation rate climbed for the seventh year in a row, according to state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

A total of 83.2 percent of the state's students who started high school in 2012-13 graduated with their class in 2016, up 0.9 percentage points from the previous year, according to the state.

"This is great news for our students and families," Torlakson said. "Graduation rates have gone up seven years in a row, reflecting renewed optimism and increased investments in our schools that have helped reduce class sizes; bring back classes in music, theater, art, dance and science; and expand career technical education programs that engage our students with hands-on, minds-on learning."

The report also showed a statewide lowering of the dropout rate. Of the students who started high school in 2012-13, 9.8 percent dropped out, down from 10.7 percent the previous year.

California is among two states the U.S. Office of Inspector General began auditing last year for its graduation rates. It found the other, Alabama, had inflated its rate. The California audit is still pending.

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