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San Diego Unified Sees Grad Rate Dip After State Changes Methodology

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in...

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.

Earlier this year, a federal audit said California was miscalculating its graduation rate. The state has since changed its formula and is out with a new batch of numbers. They don’t look too great.

Using the new method, the statewide 2016-2017 graduation rate stands at 82.7 percent — down from 83.8 percent the previous year.

But officials were expecting the drop. That’s because they weren’t counting students who left their high schools to get alternative diplomas. The feds say that was inflating the graduation rate; they should be counted because the school didn’t adequately serve them.

State Superintendent of Instruction Tom Torlakson explained the changes in a press release.

“As part of this new methodology, three significant changes were implemented for calculating 2017 high school graduation rates: (1) Students who receive an adult education high school diploma are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (2) students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) are no longer considered regular high school graduates, and (3) students who transfer to adult education programs or a community college will remain in the denominator for the cohort calculation.”

San Diego Unified had a steeper fall, from 91.3 percent in 2016 to 86.6 percent in 2017. It says if the state were still using its old calculation, the district still would have seen just a slight decrease, to 90.6 percent.

In a press release, San Diego Unified said, however, that it remains in the top spot among large districts in the state.

“San Diego Unified students have once again shown themselves to be true academic leaders,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten in the press release. “Thanks to their hard work and the support from our parents, teachers and administrators, we are building the kind of world-class education system our city deserves.”

Since there’s currently no comparable data to measure progress, the state plans to expedite processing of the 2017-2018 graduation rates and release the results in December.

California released its latest graduation numbers Thursday, and they look a bit different after a federal audit forced changes.

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