Capitol Alert

California’s high school graduation rate rises sixth year in row

Nearly 402,000 California high school seniors received diplomas last year, raising the state’s graduation rate to 82.3 percent, up 1.3 percentage points from 2014’s class, state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson reported Tuesday.

The graduation rate is calculated on the “cohort” of 488,612 students who started high school in 2011-12 and the 401,957 who had graduated four years later.

“This is encouraging news any way you look at it,” Torlakson said in a statement, “especially since the increase is occurring as we are introducing much more rigorous academic standards.”

The graduation rate has figured prominently in an ongoing debate over how the success or failure of schools are to be measured under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which is aimed at closing the “achievement gap” between poor and “English learner” students and their more privileged classmates.

The graduation rate was 78.5 percent among Latino students, a big target of the LCFF, up 1.9 percentage points from the previous year, Torlakson said. That of English learners was up 4 percentage points. Both are still markedly lower than the entire cohort and particularly so in comparison to Asian-Amrican and white students.

Overall, California’s Asian-American high schoolers had a 92.6 percent graduation rate last year, with Filipinos recording the highest rate of any ethnic group in the report, 93 percent.

Black students trailed all ethnic groups at 70.8 percent, while whites graduated at an 88 percent rate.

Graduation rates varied widely among individual school districts. Los Angeles Unified, by far the state’s largest district, reported a 72.2 percent graduation rate.

A years-long debate over both graduation rates and dropout rates was partially resolved seven years ago, when the state settled on one system that would be used to track students grade-by-grade. Last year was the sixth year in which graduation rates increased.

Detailed data on individual districts and high schools can be accessed here.