By Marsha Sutton
Using a new tracking and reporting system, the California Department of Education released graduation and dropout rates this month for the class of 2009-2010 showing that La Jolla High School had a graduation rate of 90.1 percent, compared to 74.9 percent for the San Diego Unified School District and 74.4 percent for the state.
The dropout rate was 5.1 percent for the school, 12.8 percent for the district, and 18.2 percent for the state.
The difference between the graduation and dropout rates — 4.8 percent for La Jolla High, 12.3 for the district and 7.4 for the state — represents students removed from the cohort for a number of reasons. They may have transferred to a private school, enrolled in a school out of the district, transferred to an institution or health facility, are being home-schooled, moved out of the state or country, or died.
Students remained in the cohort if they dropped out during that four-year period, completed 12th grade and exited the system without graduating, or took longer than four years to graduate.
The cohort is the group of ninth- through 12th-grade students that could potentially graduate during a four-year period, in this case 2006 to 2010. This cohort includes students who entered grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.
The general formula used to derive the data, according to the CDE, is the number of cohort members who earned a high school diploma by the end of the 2009-2010 school year, divided by: the number of first-time ninth-graders in the fall of 2006, plus students who transferred in, minus students who were removed from the cohort after transferring to different schools, moving away or dying.
Different calculation factors employed this year means that the data cannot be compared to previous years, but this year’s numbers will serve as a baseline for future data, the CDE said.
For the first time, students were tracked by school districts upon entering ninth grade in 2006, so the numbers just released are considered more accurate than systems used in the past, although all the numbers are self-reported.
The system the state had planned to use to collect data and organize graduation and dropout information was abandoned when it became a victim of California’s budget crisis. So the data reported by the state was provided to the CDE by individual districts, which employed their own measuring systems to record graduation and dropout rates.
Of the 374 students in the La Jolla High School cohort, the three largest subgroups are whites (numbering 230), Asians (35) and Latinos (84).
Whites at La Jolla High had a graduation rate of 94.8 percent and a dropout rate of 3.9 percent. Asians had a graduation rate of 88.6 percent and a dropout rate of 11.4 percent. Latinos had a graduation rate of 78.6 percent and a dropout rate of 7.1 percent.
The graduation rate for Asians at La Jolla High was lower than the percentage districtwide. For Latinos, the achievement gap is evident, although less severe than it is throughout the district and statewide.
The entire San Diego Unified School District reported a cohort of 8,622 students. The largest subgroups recorded data as follows:
Subgroup # students grad. rate dropout rate
Latino 3,700 65.7 16.2
White 2,034 83.2 9.7
African-American 1,149 68.6 16.5
Asian 799 89.0 6.6
Filipino 713 91.4 5.2
Two or more races 101 88.1 5.9
The CDE, in a news release
, provides a link to DataQuest where graduation and dropout data are available for schools and districts statewide.