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California Department of Education News Release
Release: #13-42
April 9, 2013
Contact: Tina Jung
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces Continued
Improvement in State's High School Graduation Rate

SACRAMENTO—Graduation rates among California's public school students are climbing and dropout rates are falling, with the biggest gains being made among African-American and Hispanic students, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

Overall, nearly eight out of 10 students, or 78.5 percent, who started high school in 2008-09 graduated with their class in 2012. That is up 1.4 percentage points from the year before (Table 1). Among African-American students, 65.7 percent graduated with their class in 2012, up 2.9 percentage points from the year before. Among Hispanic students, 73.2 percent graduated with their class, up 1.8 percentage points from the year before (Tables 2 and 3).

"There are great things happening in California's schools every day, and the upward climb of our graduation rate bears that out," Torlakson said. "While I am glad to announce that we are moving in the right direction, the fact remains that we must keep moving to ensure that every California student graduates ready to succeed in the world they will find outside our classrooms."

Along with the rise in the graduation rate, there is a dip in the dropout rate. Of the students who started high school in 2008-09, 13.2 percent dropped out. That's down 1.5 percentage points from the 2011 dropout rate (Table 1). Among African-American students, 22.2 percent dropped out, down 3.1 percentage points from the year before. Among Hispanic students, 16.2 dropped out, down 2.1 percentage points from the year before (Tables 2 and 3).

Another 8.3 percent of students in this cohort are neither graduates nor dropouts (Table 1). That's down 0.1 of a percentage point from 2011. A cohort refers to a particular group of students tracked over a given time period. These students either are non-diploma special education students (0.6 percent), are other students who elected to take and then passed the General Educational Development (GED) exam (0.2 percent), or are still enrolled in school (7.5 percent).

Graduation and dropout rates for counties, districts, and schools across California were calculated based on four-year cohort information using the state's California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS). This is the third time this four-year cohort information was calculated, meaning data may only be compared accurately over the three-year period from 2009-10 to 2011-12. Prior year graduation and dropout rates used different calculation systems and cannot be compared to the cohort rates.

Cohort graduation rates are used to determine whether schools met their targets for increasing the graduation rate for the Adequate Yearly Progress reporting under the federal school accountability system. The cohort dropout rate is calculated for high school students grades nine through twelve, although some students drop out as early as middle school.

To view and download state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, please visit the California Department of Education's DataQuest. Interested parties are encouraged to give careful consideration to comparing education rates across individual schools and districts. For example, some county office schools, alternative schools, or dropout recovery high schools serve only those students who are already at the greatest risk of dropping out, compared with the broader population at traditional high schools and therefore cannot be directly compared.

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Tables 1–3

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

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