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NEWS RELEASE: California Unveils New Method For Measuring High School Graduation Rate; San Diego Unified Maintains Top Position Among Big-City Schools

NEWS RELEASE: California Unveils New Method For Measuring High School Graduation Rate; San Diego Unified Maintains Top Position Among Big-City Schools
Posted on 07/26/2018

San Diego Unified School District

San Diego Unified School District once again has the highest high school graduation rate -- and the lowest dropout rate -- among big-city school districts in California, according to results released today by the California Department of Education (CDE). The new results were released today at the same time as the state unveiled a new method for tracking graduation, a change they have adopted in response to a federal audit.

The graduation rate for San Diego Unified for the Class of 2017 was 86.6 percent, according to the CDE. That puts San Diego at the top of the largest districts in the state, just ahead of Long Beach with 86.1 percent and San Francisco with 84.4 percent. This is the second consecutive year that San Diego Unified has been atop the table of big-city schools.

“San Diego Unified students have once again shown themselves to be true academic leaders,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “Thanks to their hard work and the support from our parents, teachers and administrators, we are building the kind of world-class education system our city deserves.”

Board President Kevin Beiser said, “The new graduation rates are proof that a culture of academic excellence is taking hold in San Diego Unified. The national report card on education also showed our students made the strongest academic gains of any large district at key elementary and middle school years. Now, the new graduation rates demonstrate the same commitment to growth exists in our high schools.”

The graduation rates released today by the State of California are for the Class of 2017. The rates for the year that just ended will be calculated following the conclusion of summer school and an official review period.

The graduation rate cohort is calculated by taking the total number of students who start their high school career in a district, then adding those students who move into the district during high school, and subtracting those students who either move away from the district or transfer to a private or charter school within the district. The total number in the cohort is then divided by the number of “regular” graduates to determine the graduation rate.

The San Diego Unified Class of 2017 cohort contained 6,470 students, of which 86.6 percent of the seniors graduated. San Diego Unified also recorded the lowest dropout rate at 3.3 percent. San Francisco was second with 8.2 percent.

The graduation rates among the district's ethnic groups remained competitive. With 84.1 percent of seniors graduating, African-American students ranked second among large districts, and Latino students, with 82.3 percent of seniors graduating, ranked third.

Based on new federal guidance and audit recommendations from the U.S. Department of Inspector General, the CDE made several changes this year to the business rules and methodology for calculating the four-year graduation rate, which resulted in a slight decrease for many districts and schools.

For San Diego Unified, the changes mean that students who transfer to adult education now remain in the cohort whereas they used to exit the cohort. In addition, students who earn Option 2, Joint Diplomas in our partnership with the San Diego Community College District are no longer counted as graduates who earn a regular diploma within four years.

Utilizing the CDE's old methodology, San Diego Unified's 2017 graduation rate would have been 90.6 percent, only a slight decrease from last year's rate of 91.3 percent. The CDE, however, is instructing districts to treat the 2017 graduation rates as a new baseline, as comparisons to past graduation rates no longer apply because of the changes in methodology. Their guidance notes, “The changes establish 2017 as a baseline year – comparisons to past graduation rates no longer apply because the state is no longer counting students who receive diplomas from adult education programs as graduates. Students who pass the California High School Proficiency Exam are also now excluded from the graduate pool.”

For specific school results, go to the California Department of Education website, www.cde.ca.gov. For additional details, please visit our website at https://www.sandiegounified.org/GraduationRates .

Contact: Jennifer Rodriguez | Communications| [email protected] | 619-847-6029