California’s high school graduation rate improves for 7th straight year, but ethnic gaps remain

FERMIN LEAL/EDSOURCE TODAY

A student from Santa Ana’s Middle College High School graduation celebrates by decorating her mortarboard with flowers and an inspirational message.

FERMIN LEAL/EDSOURCE TODAY

A student from Santa Ana’s Middle College High School graduation celebrates by decorating her mortarboard with flowers and an inspirational message.

California’s high school graduation rate increased to 83.2 percent for the class of 2016, with gains for nearly all ethnic groups though gaps persist, according to statistics released Tuesday.

The overall rise of 0.9 percent above the previous year marked the 7th consecutive annual increase in graduation tallies and is significant progress from the 74.7 percent in 2010 when this form of measurement began, the California Department of Education reported. In what officials described as another sign of progress, the latest dropout rate was 9.8 percent, compared with 10.7 percent in 2015 and 16.6 percent in 2010.

Improved graduation rates were shown by Latinos, Asians, African Americans, whites, Filipinos and Native Americans in 2016, as well by English learners, foster youth and students in migrant education. English learners, African Americans and Latinos had the biggest increases, of 2.7 percent, 1.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. Pacific Islanders showed a slight decline.

However, while some ethnic disparities narrowed, significant achievement gaps persisted among the cohort of 489,036 students who started high school in 2012–13. In some cases, the difference was as large as 20 percentage points. Filipinos and Asians, at 93.6 percent and 93.4 percent, had the highest four-year graduation rates; whites achieved 88.1 percent; Pacific Islanders, 81.9; Latinos, 80.0; Native Americans, 73.8; and African Americans, 72.6.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson described the overall improvements as “great news for our students and families.” In a statement released by his office, Torlakson attributed the gains to increased education spending that helped reduce class sizes, restored classes in the arts and science, and expanded career-technical programs. “The increasing rates show that the positive changes in California schools are taking us in the right direction. These changes, which I call the California Way, include teaching more rigorous and relevant academic standards, which provides more local control over spending and more resources to those with the greatest needs,” his statement said.


Originally published at edsource.org.