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California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #16-38
May 17, 2016
Contact: Peter Tira
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Reports New Record High School Graduation Rate and Sixth Consecutive Year of an Increase

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reported California's cohort graduation rate climbed for the sixth year in a row in 2015 to a record high, with the biggest jump taking place among English Learners and migrant students.

Among students who started high school in 2011–12, 82.3 percent graduated with their class in 2015, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. (See Table 1.) This increase means that 2,900 more students received their high school diploma last year than the year before. The state's graduation rate has increased substantially since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate.   

 The graduation rate of almost every student subgroup calculated by the California Department of Education (CDE) also rose in 2015. The rate of increase among English Learners was 4 percentage points—three times the statewide rate—while the rate of increase among African Americans was 2.6 percentage points—double the statewide rate.

"This is encouraging news any way you look at it, especially since the increase is occurring as we are introducing much more rigorous academic standards," Torlakson said. "Statewide, our students are benefiting from the additional revenues flowing into our schools. We are bringing back relevant and engaging classes in science, civics, arts, and Career Technical Education that were slashed during the Great Recession. I am also pleased to see the first signs of the narrowing of the pernicious and persistent achievement gap. But a lot of work remains, and our schools still need additional and stable resources."

For Hispanic or Latino students, the graduation rate reached 78.5 percent, up 1.9 percentage points from the year before. American Indian or Alaska native students experienced a gain of 2.5 percentage points from 2014 to a 73.1 percent graduation rate in 2015. For African American students, the graduation rate increased to 70.8 percent. (See Table 2).

The graduation rate among migrant students rose 4.4 percentage points from the year before to 80.7 percent. Special education students saw their graduation rate jump by 2.2 percentage points to 64.5 percent. The graduation rate for English Learners increased to 69.4 percent.                                                         

Along with the record rise in the graduation rate, fewer students dropped out of school. The dropout rate declined from 11.5 percent in 2014 to 10.7 percent in 2015, down 0.8 of a percentage point. The dropout rate declined for most subgroups of students, with the biggest decreases taking place among migrant students and English Learners. For Latinos, the dropout rate declined 1.3 percentage points and for African Americans, it declined by 1.5 percentage points.

The state dropout rate does not have a precise correlation with the graduation rate because some students are still pursuing a high school degree or its equivalent after four years. Last year 6.3 percent of students in the cohort were in that category, a decline of 0.5 percent from the year before.

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). Cohort means the same group of students entered ninth grade for the first time and were followed for four years.

This is the sixth time this cohort information was calculated, meaning data may only be compared accurately over the six-year period from 2009–10 to 2014–15. Prior to 2009–10, graduation and dropout rates used different calculation systems. Cohort graduation rates are used to determine whether schools met their targets for increasing the graduation rate for Adequate Yearly Progress reporting under federal accountability rules.

In 2015, the Legislature and the Governor suspended the outdated California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) as a graduation requirement. This may have played a role in the increased graduation rate for 2015; however, the graduation rate had been increasing every year since 2010. In addition, CAHSEE has no relation to the dropout rate.

To view and download state, county, district, and school graduation and dropout rates, visit the California Department of Education's DataQuest. Downloadable data sheets are available on the Cohort Outcome Data Web page. Caution is urged when comparing graduation or dropout 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.

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Attachments

Table 1: Difference Between Class of 2014 and Class of 2015 Cohort Graduation and Dropout Rates

Year

Cohort Students

Cohort Graduates

Cohort Graduation Rate

Cohort Dropouts

Cohort Dropouts Rate

Cohort Special Ed Completers

Cohort Special Ed Completers Rate

Cohort Still Enrolled

Cohort Still Enrolled Rate

2013-14

492,971

399,041

81.0

56,756

11.5

2,981

0.6

33,422

6.8

2014-15

488,612

401,957

82.3

52,249

10.7

3,192

0.7

30,775

6.3

Difference

-4,359

2,916

1.3

-4,507

-0.8

211

0.1

-2,647

-0.5

Table 2: Cohort Increase or Decrease from the Class of 2014 to Class of 2015 by Subgroup and Program

Ethnic/Racial Designation or Program

Cohort Graduation Rate 2014-15

Cohort Graduation Rate 2013-14

Graduation Rate Difference

Cohort Dropout Rate 2014-15

Cohort Dropout Rate 2013-14

Dropout Rate Difference

Hispanic or Latino of Any Race

78.5

76.6

1.9

12.6

13.9

-1.3

American Indian or Alaska Native, Not Hispanic

73.1

70.6

2.5

18.1

18.8

-0.7

Asian

92.6

92.4

0.2

4.5

4.5

0.0

Pacific Islander, Not Hispanic

82.2

80.4

1.8

11.5

12.4

-0.9

Filipino, Not Hispanic

93.0

92.2

0.8

3.5

4.4

-0.9

African American, Not Hispanic

70.8

68.2

2.6

18.8

20.3

-1.5

White, Not Hispanic

88.0

87.6

0.4

7.4

7.6

-0.2

Two or More Races, Not Hispanic

86.0

85.6

0.4

8.5

8.4

0.1

Not Reported

57.9

63.2

-5.3

37.5

32.0

5.5

English Learners

69.4

65.4

4.0

17.6

20.8

-3.2

Migrant Education

80.7

76.3

4.4

11.2

15.7

-4.5

Special Education

64.5

62.3

2.2

14.9

16.0

-1.1

Socioeconomically Disadvantaged

77.7

75.6

2.1

13.1

14.4

-1.3

All Students

82.3

81

1.3

10.7

11.5

-0.8

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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, May 17, 2016
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