Graduation rates among California high school seniors continued to increase across districts and student subgroups in 2016, according to a report released by the California Department of Education Tuesday.
According to the report, more than 83 percent of students in the class of 2016 graduated on time, or in four years, from public high schools. The graduation rate is up 1 percentage point from the class of 2015, meaning 4,917 more California students received a high school diploma this year.
The numbers are a record high and indicate a large jump from the state’s first graduation rate calculations for the class of 2010, when only 74.7 percent of students graduated on time.
“Graduation rates have gone up seven years in a row, reflecting renewed optimism and increased in our schools that have helped reduce class sizes; bring back classes in music, theatre, arts, dance and science; and expand career technical education programs that engage our students with hands-on, minds-on learning,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in a statement.
Torlakson also attributed the increasing rates to schools teaching more rigorous and relevant academic standards, increasing local control over spending and increasing resources to those with the greatest needs.
Along with the graduation rate increase, dropout rates for the class of 2016 declined from 10.7 percent in 2015 to 9.8 percent in 2016.
William S. Hart Union High School District
A similar trend was demonstrated in the graduation rates and dropout rates for the class of 2016 in the William S. Hart Union High School District.
The Hart District’s graduation rates for 2016 were above the state’s average by 12 percentage points, with 95 percent of the district’s class of 2016 graduating on time.
This means that out of 3,771 students in the class of 2016, the Hart District graduated 3,584 students on time.
Dave Caldwell, public information officer for the Hart District attributes the success of the district to its teachers and its parent involvement.
“Certainly research shows that the more parents that are involved the better kids do in schools,” he said.
Hart District’s graduation rates are the same from the class of 2015; however, they reflect an increase from the class of 2010 when 91.9 percent of students graduated on time.
The numbers also reflect an improvement in dropout rates from 3.3 percent for the class of 2010 to 1.2 percent for the class of 2015 to 1 percent, or 36 students, for the class of 2016.
In the Hart District, the overall goal is 100 percent graduation for all students.
“It’s always the objective to have 100 percent graduation and it is a constant process of self-analysis and identifying areas that need attention and focusing on improvement,” Caldwell said.
Numbers from both the state and the district also reflect a large increase among the student subgroups of English learners, African American and Latino students.
According to statewide numbers, for English Learners the graduation rate was 72.1 percent, up 2.7 percentage points from the year before; for African American students the graduation rate was 72.6 percent, up 1.8 percentage points; and for Hispanic or Latino students the graduation rate was 80 percent, up 1.5 percentage points.
In the Hart District, student subgroups also saw graduation rates above those of the state.
For English Learners the graduation rate was 81.2 percent, down 2 percentage points from the year before; for African American students the graduation rate was 93.7 percent, up 1.5 percentage points; and for Hispanic or Latino students the graduation rate was 92.4 percent, up 0.8 percentage points.
“Every single one of our schools is tasked every year by the board to identify areas they need to improve upon and show the board in public session what they have done to improve those areas and many of those include those subgroups,” Caldwell said.
According to Torlakson, these rates are critical to narrowing the achievement gap between African American and Latino students and Asian and white students, whose graduation rates were 88.1 percent and 93.4 percent for the state and 96.2 percent and 96.9 for the district, respectively.
“We still have a long way to go and need help from everyone—teachers, parents, administers and community members—to keep our momentum alive so we can keep improving,” Torlakson said.
Graduation rates are calculated using the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS).
Both graduation and dropout rates for the state, county, district and school are available at the California Department of Education’s DataQuest page. Data sheets are available on the California Department of Education’s Cohort Outcome Data page.
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