California dropout rates: good or bad?

With the release of the EdWeek “Diplomas Count” report this week, districts and states are looking to see how they are doing based on this report.  This interactive map allows anyone in any city or school district to identify how they are doing in regards to graduation rates and/or dropout rates.  Here are the California results.  Or you can see an individual school district result like LA Unified or San Jose Unified or Clovis Unified.

What is curious is how the percentages of graduates in this three sample districts increased so much from 2007 to 2008.  Based on the interactive map here is the difference in graduation rates from 2007 to 2008:

  • California: 62.7 to 73% graduation rate
  • LA Unified:  40.6 to 48.7
  • San Jose Unified: 65.4 to 76.2
  • Clovis Unified: 65.9 to 85.6

Russell Rumberger, a dropout researcher at UC Santa Barbara suggests these figures are “bogus” based on this blog post.  Looking at the above numbers for just a few places suggests there are some flaws in these numbers.

Still, even if we accept that 73% of students graduating from high school in California, there are still nearly 30% of students who are not earning a diploma within four years.  We need to work together to increase the number of high school graduates in California and across the nation.

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