An increasing percentage of California students are graduating within four years of entering high school, according to new state data released last week.
"It's heading in the right direction," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said on a conference call announcing the high school graduation and dropout rates for the Class of 2011.
This is the second year the state's rates have been based on a state data system—CALPADS—that tracks individual students over their academic careers. Previous systems relied on group estimates.
The new data shows 76.3 percent of California high school students graduated within four years in 2011, up 1.5 percent from the previous class that was the first to use CALPADS. San Diego Unified School District continues to far exceed state averages, with a graduation rate of just under 84 percent.
About 78 percent of San Diego County high school students graduate within four years.
Torlakson said though the numbers are not where state officials would like them to be ultimately, they are "good news" in the face of terrible budgets, turmoil and uncertainty, crowded classrooms, a shorter school year and eliminated summer school in some districts.
"We'd like to see the numbers climb higher and faster," Torlakson said.Schools 10-11 Grad 10-11 Dropout 09-10 Grad 09-10 Dropout
La Jolla High School97.3%
Preuss School UCSD99% 0% 100%
0% San Diego Unified School District 83.7% 5.9% 80.9% 8.4% State 76.3% 14.4% 74.8% 16.6% County 77.5% 10.9% 75.2% 13.2%
(The Preuss School UCSD had 100 students eligible for graduation, 99 graduates and one student still enrolled, according to California Department of Education data.)
The state's dropout rate, too, is headed in the right direction, Torlakson said, dropping just over 2 percent to 14.4 percent in the Class of 2011.
"Our research shows that chronic absence from school, even as early as kindergarten, is a strong indicator of whether a child will drop out of school later,” Torlakson said in a statement. “The dropout rate shows there’s still much work to be done, particularly to address the needs of disadvantaged and minority students. We must build on our work with parents and communities in the earliest years to pave the way for kids to succeed in school.”
About one out of 10 San Diego County high school students drop out, including 0.5 percent at La Jolla High School. Both the county and La Jolla High School's dropout rates declined between 2009-10 and 2010-11 (see chart).
The dropout rate reflects students who are no longer enrolled in California schools and who are not known to have transferred out of state. With CALPADS, state education officials are able to track students as they move throughout the state—whether or not they let their original home school know they are leaving. But if students leave the state without notifying their last in-state school, they can be shown as a dropout.
Students who are still enrolled in school beyond four years, pursuing a GED or in a non-diploma special education program are not included as dropouts.