High School Graduation Rates Mixed

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday July 31, 2008 - 10:02:00 AM

The 82 percent graduation rate for the Berkeley Unified School District in 2006–07 is higher than the state level (79.5 percent) but lower than the county level (84 percent), according to data released by the California Department of Education Tuesday as required by federal No Child Left Behind standards. 

Berkeley High School’s graduation rate (85.6 percent) was higher than the state and county levels, but graduation rates at Berkeley Technology Academy (43.6 percent) were lower than both the statewide and countywide levels. 

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell released two sets of data for graduation rates for 2006–2007. 

Under the state-level report, the “ninth-grade-to-graduate rate” is 67.6 percent, which means that just over two-thirds of California’s high school students who started high school received a diploma four years later in the 2006-2007 school year. 

Tina Jung, spokesperson for the California Department of Education, said the state-level data could not be broken down to county, district and school levels. The state-level data is based on the Statewide Student Identifiers (SSIDs), a tracking system established in 2006, which makes the data more accurate, Jung said. 

The state Department of Education, Jung said, was also required by the No Child Left Behind law to report graduation rates that showed a more favorable graduation rate for students compared to the state-level data.  

“These numbers are overstated,” she said. “It does not take into account the students who have not graduated and not dropped out.” 

Last week the state released the first statewide report on high-school dropout and graduation rates tracking individual students, which also relied on Statewide Student Identifiers. 

Although the dropout rate for students at Berkeley Unified School District (15.6 percent) was lower than the countywide (18.7 percent) and statewide (24.2 percent) rates, the rate for Berkeley Technology Academy (59.3 percent) was more than three times the countywide rate and more than double the statewide rate.  

SSIDs provide each student a unique identification number and allow for much more accurate information about how many students are or are not completing their education, state educators said.  

“Increasing graduation rates is critical to closing the achievement gap and preparing students for success in the competitive global economy,” O’Connell said in a statement Tuesday.  

“We are now able to use individual student-level data to more accurately report how many students graduate, how many drop out before graduating, and why these students leave school. Educators at the state and local level must use this powerful new information to prevent students from dropping out in the first place, and to ensure more students leave high school with a diploma in hand.” 

To download state-, county-, district-, and school-level reports, see dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest.